SMUT
FUNGI

smut on Smutgrass, Sporobolus indicus This is "real smut on the Internet," so we'll see if the "smut filters" let the page show up on your computer. The black masses among the much-enlarged grass flowers at the right is real smut. In fact, smut is such a common occurrence on this particular grass that its common English name is Smutgrass. It's Sporobolus indicus.

Smut typically shows up as black and dusty masses, just like in the picture. The blackness is caused by black spores. Among the smuts, when the hyphae parasitizing the host plant are ready to reproduce, the hyphae's cell walls melt, or "gelatinize," and the cells' contents changes into spores. Once the cell walls are completely disintegrated, the spores float away on wind currents. This special kind of spore is called a teliospore and it's sort of a resting stage. The teliospore may fall onto the ground and perhaps at a much later date, when environmental conditions are good, it germinates to produce a long tube-like thing, and that's the basidium, which we've already met. The basidia -- just as they would on a gill or pore fungus -- then produce basidiospores, and of course new hyphae can germinate from the basidiospores.