Difference Between Rust and Smut

Rust and Smut

Rust and Smut, both diseases of plants caused by pathogenic fungi in plants. It is caused by the pathogenic fungi of the order Pucciniales or also known as Uredinales. Rust and Smut, both are the limiting factors for successful cultivation for forest crops and agriculture.


Rusts are known to be the most dangerous pathogens to agriculture, forestry and horticulture. Some  of the examples of rust are wheat stem rust, white pine blister rust, soybean rust, coffee rust, etc.; these are economically important crops that are affected by rust. All of the rusts are parasites and they require a living host for completion of the life cycle and here, they can severely rescue the yield and growth of the host plant.


On the other hand, smuts belong to the group of multicellular fungi that are characterised by the presence of numerous teliospores. Smut got their name from a Germanic word for dirt meaning dark, dust-like and thick-walled teliospores. Smut are usually Ustilaginomycetes belonging to the phylum Basidiomycota. Smuts mostly affect cereal and crop pathogens which are the members of the grass family (Poaceas) and sedges  (Cyperaceae). Some of the other host plants affected by Smut are Maize, Barley, Wheat, Oats, Forage Grasses and Sugarcane.


How do Rust and Smut Affect Plants?

Mechanism of Rusts

  • Rusts have definite patterns of association with host plant groups where these parasitize them. Such host plants examples are Uromyces and Puccinia. Other rust genera are restricted to specific plant groups belonging to heteroecious species and host restriction may apply to both life cycle phases or to only one phase.

  • The spores of the fungi (rust) can be dispersed by wind, insect vectors or water. When this spore encounters the host, it germinates and infects plant tissues.

  • The rust spores germinated on a plant surface via a germ tube which is a short hypha. This germ tube locates a stoma and the hyphal tip produces an infectious structure known as appressorium. Below this structure, a slender hypha starts growing downward to infect plant cells.

  • There are calcium ion channels located in the hypha tip that mediate the whole process and produce electric currents to alter gene expression that also includes appressorium formation.

  • Once the invasion of fungus into the plant, it starts growing into plant mesophyll cells and produces specialized hyphae called haustoria.

  • Haustoria can only penetrate cell walls, not cell membranes and it contains amino acids and other favorable energy products that help in actively transporting nutrients to the fungus from the plant.

  • This way, the fungus starts growing and penetrates more plant cells till the spore growth takes place. This whole process repeats every 10-14 days and thus produces multiple spores that spread to other parts of the same plant as well as the new hosts.

Mechanism of Smut

  • Smuts are known to be cereal and crop pathogens that have teliospores.

  • Smuts eventually hijack the host plants’ reproductive systems that form galls which darken and burst, thus releasing teliospores.

  • The teliospores infect the other plants nearby. Before occurrence of an infection, the smuts have to perform a successful mating resulting in the formation of a dikaryotic hyphae, meaning- two haploid cells fusing to form a dikaryon.

  • In the case of sugarcane, the fungi makes use of its smut-whip that ensures the disease spreads to other plants and it usually occurs over a time period of 3 months.

  • Corn smut infecting maize is called huitlacoche in Mexico and they use it for several recipes such as stews, steak, soups, etc. Corn smuts basically turn the kernels into powdery and black fungal tissues.

Learning the above mentioned points, students must have been much clearer about the rust and the smut and the differences between rust and smut. To explain further, we have put down a tabular chart that distinguishes rust and smut.


Difference between Rust and Smut

Rust 

Smut

It is a group of fungal diseases affecting plants and the name is so because of their characteristic rusty appearance.

It is also a group of fungal diseases affecting plants like grasses, sugarcane and corn. It appears black due to the sooty look of the host or affected plants.

Uredospore stage shows the characteristic symptoms in case of rust.

Teliospore stage shows the characteristic symptoms appearing on plants due to smut.

Rust can be either heteroecious i.e. fungi requires two unrealed hosts for completing the life cycle, or it can also be autoecious.

Smuts are autoecious i.e. all the stages of the fungal life cycle occurring on the same host.

The nutrition intake for rust is intercellular using structures called haustoria.

The intake of nutrition for smuts can either be intercellular or intracellular.

Clamp connect is present but rare.

Clamp connections are commonly observed in smuts.

Rust can produce up to 5 kinds of spores namely aeciospores, teliospores, basidiospores, pycniospores and uredospores.

Smuts produce only one kind of spore which is equivalent to its teliospores.

The terminal cells of the mycelium give rise to teliospore; this is the process of spore development in rust.

Here, intercalary cells give rise to spores.

Spores or teliospores are stalked, two-celled and each of them is binucleated.

Spores in smuts can be uninucleated or binucleated.

It may require two hosts.

It will never require two hosts. 

The hosts for rusts include gymnosperms, angiosperms and ferns.

The hosts for smuts are only angiosperms.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Cite Some Examples of Smut.

Ans: There are a number of economically important plants that are affected by smuts. It includes corn smut - Ustilago maydis, bunt and stinking smut of wheat - Tilletia spp. and loose smut of oats - Ustilago avenae.

2. Differentiate Between Uredospore and Teliospore.

Ans: Uredospores are produced by urediniomycetes and these are fungal spores formed during leaf rust. On the other hand, teliospores are fungal spores produced during leaf rust and smut  produced by Uredinomycetes and Ustilaginales fungi. The former has a thin cell wall and is oval shaped and the latter has a thick cell wall and is spindle shaped.