What is Ustilago SP?

Ustilago sp is a fungus that is one of 200 such smut fungi found on grasses, as well as grains. Spores are carried through the air, infecting organic plant matter they descend upon.

A pair of scientists named Butler and Bisby in 1958 found half of these species in India, with all Ustilago species being parasitic and infecting the flowers of grasses such as wheat, barley, oat, maize, sugarcane, rye, and many wild grasses.

The name means “burnt” in Latin due to its production of black and powdery soot-like spores that appear on the host plants. This is why it’s called smut fungus. This fungus is generally not dangerous to humans. In fact, the fungus itself is sometimes eaten in countries like Mexico as its own delicacy called cuitlacoche that is placed into quesadillas.

Symptoms of Ustilago SP

While Ustilago sp is common among grasses and corn, it rarely causes any health issues in humans. Infections have been few and far between according to the available medical literature.

How You Can Treat Ustilago SP

Treatment of Ustilago sp can be done by using topical antifungal drugs, such as ketoconazole, itraconazole, and posaconazole. These topical drugs have to be used for several weeks until the infection clears up.


To prevent getting infected with this fungal infection, it’s essential to be wary of touching potentially infected grasses and corn. Additionally, you should avoid breathing in the spores, if you are in close proximity to grasses it infects.


Fungal infections sometimes clear up on their own, although the application of antifungal topicals can clear up infections within several weeks. In order to ensure that you are completely cured of the infection, you should continue to apply topical antifungals until there are no more symptoms. The fungus causing this fungal infection shares proteins and cellular processes not found in the standard model, which is only now being understood a little better. Given the low prevalence of infections in humans, it is considered to be a low risk for humans, with quick recovery for these benign infections for the few who become infected.

How Alliance Enviro-Tech Can Help

Ustilago sp is a fungal infection that rarely shows up in humans, but when it does it end up infecting those who directly handle infected grasses or breath in the spores. Avoid breathing in air that may contain fungal spores, and avoid touching plant matter with the fungus, in order to reduce the risk of an infection that can cause harm to your health. You will want to ensure that you are not placing yourself at risk of succumbing to this fungal infection. It is important to be aware of all potential ways fungi can spread in your home or office.

Alliance Enviro-Tech can disinfect both residential and commercial spaces thoroughly. Our Path-Guard System® and Path-Away Anti-Pathogenic Aerosol Solution® can kill Ustilago sp, as well as other fungi, bacteria, and viruses, in under five minutes, giving you peace of mind to know your place is a healthier space. Contact us to learn more about how we can help.