Smuts on Lygeum spartium (natural habitat)

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  • Hi, years ago I found dark rust fungal spore mass inside the inflorescences of Lygeum spartium (Esperanto grass). Some five years later I still see the same infection in the same population. I am curious to investigate. For the moment, I can share only macro features and will hopefully work on the micro tomorrow and try to cultivate on culture media next week.

    The dark brown spores only exhibits themselves inside the single floret of the species. Apart from its presence, it also deforms the flowers making it look to have 2-4 florets but it may be that each corresponds to the two glumes, lemma and palea (infection is causing dysplasia). One member (Bjorne) suggested and sp. which is probably correct, but a further resolution to species level is desired;)

    • Offizieller Beitrag


    wow. I´ve never heard of this grass, because I live in central europe. :gklimper::grotwerd:

    I checked the book of Friedemann Klenke and Markus Scholler. The genus Lygeum isn´t listed there. Maybe you should contact Julia Kruse. She is a smut fungi expert.

    best regards


    P.S. I transfer this thread into the right section. :) This Section of this Forum is only for anamorph fungi.

    Risspilz: hui; Rissklettern: bisher pfui; ab nun: na ja mal sehen...

    Derzeit so pilzgeschädigt, das geht auf keine Huthaut. :D

    Meine Antworten hier stellen nur Bestimmungsvorschläge dar. Verzehrsfreigaben gibts nur vom PSV vor Ort.

  • Thank you,

    In the meantime I had a look at the spores, and they dont seem particularly interesting although i have a curiosity. The spores are globular with a preipheral rim (thick wall?) and amorphous semi-translucent bodies which I think they are guttulae. The spherical spores had a diameter of 5.0-5.8 um (see details below). Surface smooth sometimes with some eroded portions in the wall. The images are froum spores mounted in an anti-surfactant and KOH (3%).

    The curious part is that within the spores mass there were spinulose spores which I judged as doubtfully artifacts/foreign extrinsic matter, but they were definitely in the spore mass extracted from the glume pockets. They were rare (1-2 in 200 spores in one slide, 1-2 in 80 spores in another). They measure about 12um. I thought it is worth mentioning.

    Spore measurements

    5.28 5.28

    4.98 4.72

    5.64 4.44

    5.24 5.11

    5.53 4.68

    5.05 4.72

    5.02 4.87

    4.57 4.42

    5.99 5.31

    4.76 4.55

    5.11 4.79

    5.02 5.02

    5.19 5.19

    5.47 5.10

    5.68 5.15

    5.99 5.39

    5.62 5.09

    5.00 4.77

    5.19 4.47

    4.17 4.05

    5.78 4.95

    5.57 5.04

    5.16 4.90

    5.41 5.29

    4.97 4.73

    5.52 4.94

    5.25 5.13

    5.13 5.02

    6.26 5.55

    (4.2) 5 - 5.8 (6.3) × (4.1) 4.5 - 5.3 (5.6) µm

    Q = 1 - 1.2 (1.3) ; N = 29

    Me = 5.3 × 4.9 µm ; Qe = 1.1

  • Hi Steve,

    the fungus you present is not a rust, but it is a smut fungus, my special working area ;) The species is Tranzscheliella sparti, which is restricted to the floral parts of Lygeum. Other Tranzscheliella species, which could also infect the host occur on the culms, surrounding the upper nodes. The "thick wall" you mentioned is quite typical for the species - they are called polar caps.

    It is quite easy to culture this smut, you just have to sterilize the surface quite well, make a suspension and drop it on Yeastmaltagar. Should grow quite quick, at best at 23 to 25 degree. I was able to culture that smut, having a colony in glycerol stock in the fridge at senckenberg ;)

    The spiny spores could be pollen or other fungal spores - especially Tranzscheliella has a lot of spores of various fungi on the smut sori, because they are not really covered by a peridium or similar stuff.

    All the best,


  • Thank you Julia, investigation solved then. 😎. I have two further questions

    1. Am I right to assume that it won't kill the host plant? Infection seems to be effecting only sone florets (5-20%)

    2. Is the fungus 'dormant' in the host perennially and then emerges with the inflorescence.