Tilletia Tul. & C. Tul.


Tilletia caries (DC.) Tul. & C. Tul. on Triticum aestivum L.


Sori most commonly in the ovaries of grasses, forming bunt balls filled with semi-agglutinated to powdery pale to dark brown spore masses mixed with sterile cells; sometimes as streaks in leaves and culms, rarely producing swellings or witches’ brooms, usually foetid from trimethylamine (odour of herring brine). Infection local or systemic.

Spores solitary, medium-sized to large, usually ornamented (reticulate, cerebriform, verrucose, spiny or tuberculate), rarely smooth, commonly encased in a hyaline gelatinous sheath.

Sterile cells solitary, usually present among the spores in variable numbers, hyaline to lightly pigmented, smooth to granular, naked or sheathed, variously shaped.

Spore germination by means of an aseptate basidium bearing terminal basidiospores that can conjugate in situ, giving rise to infection hyphae and ballistospores (secondary sporidia); or basidiospores numerous, acicular, giving rise to infection hyphae without conjugation.

Host-parasite interaction by intercellular hyphae; interaction apparatus lacking.

Septal pore a dolipore traversed by 2 membraneous plates; pore caps lacking.


A genus of about 160 species which is exclusively parasitic on grasses (Poaceae); 34 species are known from Australia. The genus Tilletia was first revised by Massee (1899) and later by Durán & Fischer (1961).

Species in Australia
Tilletia anthoxanthi
Tilletia australiensis
Tilletia bromi
Tilletia cape-yorkensis
Tilletia caries
Tilletia cathcartae
Tilletia cerebrina
Tilletia chionachnes
Tilletia ehrhartae
Tilletia eragrostidis
Tilletia geeringii
Tilletia horrida
Tilletia imbecillis
Tilletia inolens
Tilletia kimberleyensis
Tilletia lachnagrostidis
Tilletia laevis
Tilletia lineata
Tilletia mactaggartii
Tilletia majuscula
Tilletia marjaniae
Tilletia micrairae
Tilletia narayanaraoana
Tilletia nigrifaciens
Tilletia opaca
Tilletia palpera
Tilletia pseudochaetochloae
Tilletia pseudoraphidis
Tilletia robeana
Tilletia sehimicola
Tilletia shivasii
Tilletia sphaerococca
Tilletia texana
Tilletia trabutii
Tilletia vankyi
Tilletia viennotii
Tilletia vittata
Tilletia walkeri
Tilletia whiteochloae
Tilletia xerochloae
Tilletia yakirrae

Key based on host taxonomy
On Agrostis1
1.  Spores with 3.5-6 µm high, subacute or flattened wartsTilletia inolens
Spores reticulateTilletia sphaerococca
On AiraTilletia cerebrina
On AnthoxanthumTilletia anthoxanthi
On AristidaTilletia palpera
On Arundinella1
1.  Spores 20-27(-30) µm long with 1.5-2.5 µm high wartsTilletia lineata
Spores 30‑40 µm long with 3.5‑6.5 µm long cylindrical projectionsTilletia shivasii
On AustrostipaTilletia texana
On BrizaTilletia viennotii
On Chionachne1
1.  Spores 23-36 µm long; wall 4.5-6 µm thickTilletia chionachnes
Spores 16-24(-26) µm long; wall 1.5-3.5 µm thickTilletia kimberleyensis
On CritesionTilletia trabutii
On DeyeuxiaTilletia inolens
On EhrhartaTilletia ehrhartae
On EragrostisTilletia eragrostidis
On Eriachne1
1.  Spores with 1520 warts across the spore diam.Tilletia mactagartii
Spores with less than 15 warts across the spore diam.2
2.  Wall of sterile cells laminatedTilletia marjaniae
Wall of sterile cells not laminatedTilletia geeringii
On Lachnagrostis1
1.  Spores 36-45 µm long with flattened wartsTilletia inolens
Spores 19-27 µm long, coarsely echinulateTilletia lachnagrostidis
On Lolium1
1.  Spores 23-36(40) µm long with conical to truncate wartsTilletia walkeri
Spores 18-26 µm long, reticulateTilletia vankyi
On MicrairaTilletia micrairae
On Oplismenus1
1.  Spores subglobose to ellipsoidal, warts irregularly distributedTilletia imbecillis
Spores globose to subglobose, warts regularly distributedTilletia vittata
On OryzaTilletia horrida
1.  Spores 18–29 µm long; 10–16 warts per spore diameterTilletia australiensis
Spores 24–33 µm long; 6–10 warts per spore diameterTilletia horrida
On PanicumTilletia narayanaraoana
On PhragmitesTilletia nigrifaciens
On PoaTilletia cathcartae
On PolypogonTilletia robeana
On PseudochaetochloaTilletia pseudochaetochloae
On PseudoraphisTilletia pseudoraphidis
On SehimaTilletia sehimicola
On SpinifexTilletia opaca
On Triticum1
1.  Spores reticulateTilletia caries
Spores smoothTilletia laevis
On VulpiaTilletia bromi
On Whiteochloa1
1.  Spore wall 3.5-4.5 µm thick, 3-4 µm high wartsTilletia cape-yorkensis
Spore wall 2.5-3.5 µm thick, 2-3 µm high wartsTilletia whiteochloae
On XerochloaTilletia xerochloae
On Yakirra1
1.  Spores 15–25 µm long; 5–11 warts per spore diameterTilletia yakirrae
Spores 20–27 µm long; 13–20 warts per spore diameterTilletia majuscula