Fungal category. Ustilaginales. Basidiomycetes.
Two families, 50 genera, and 950 species.
On cereal crops, grasses, weeds, other fungi, and on other flowering plants.
Wind disperses the powdery brown teliospores of smut.
Smuts do not usually grow indoors. They are parasitic plant pathogens that require a living host for the completion of their life cycle.
Smuts are members of the Basidiomycetes and have two spore types: teliospores (dry, powdery stage) and basidiospores (yeast stage).
Type I allergies (hay fever, asthma).
No reports of human infection by the plant parasitic forms.
The airborne phase (teliospores) of smut requires a living host for growth and will not develop on laboratory media. The yeast phase (basidiospores) is saprophytic and will grow on general fungal media.
Smut teliospores cannot easily be distinguished from the myxomycetes and certain species of Periconia. They are reported in the "round, brown" spore category: "Smuts, Periconia, myxomycetes."
The teliospores of smuts are somewhat distinctive en masse. They are found in dust as part of the normal influx of outdoor particles.