Diseases Caused by members of the Ceratocystis fimbriata complex

(A special section on Ceratocystis wilt of cacao, caused by C. cacaofunesta, is available: Cacao.html)

 A review of the liturature on Ceratocystis fimbriata and the diseases caused by this complex of species, prepared for CABI's 2001 Crop Protection Compendium, is now available:





Black Rot of Sweet Potato, Caused by Ceratocystis fimbriata:
Small black patches where sporulation occurs. This storage root came from North Carolina. Perithecia with sticky ascospore masses that collect at the tip of long necks for insect dispersal. The ascospores of C. fimbriata have a narrow brim at the base, giving the spores a "bowler hat look."   Chalara conidial state and pigmented aleuriospores for survival in soil. This is one of the many Ceratocystis species that can be soilborne as well as insect borne.

Black Rot of Araceae, Caused by Ceratocystis fimbriata:

At least three genetically distinct forms of Ceratocystis fimbriata (from Asia, the Caribbean and Brazil) cause a dark, dry rot in inhame (Colocasia, taro, native to Asia) and Xanthosoma (native to the Caribbean). The Caribbean form also causes a disease in ornamental Syngonium.

The Brazilian form of C. fimbriata on inhame is shown in the photo below. The fungus produces conidia and perithecia in the black/gray areas.

Below the gray to black areas, where the perithecia and conidia are found (section cut away and laying on the left side), the black rot is seen inside the corm on the right.


Ficus Wilt, Caused by Ceratocystis fimbriata:

A little-studied but severe disease is found in Ficus carica (edible fig) in São Paulo state in Brazil, near Campinas. It is caused by a native, Brazilian form of C. fimbriata. There is also a Asian form of C. fimbriata that causes a disease in Ficus carica in southern Japan.

In Brazil, the fungus causes expanding infection centers of mortality, presumably by undergroud spread in root systems. All infections in the stem appear to originate in the roots.

In this field near Campinas, Brazil, there is a large infection center, with mortality of fig trees at the edge of the infection center, at the right and downhill at the edge of the clearing. Healthy figs are have silver-gray leaves due to copper-sulfate sprays to control rust. Almost all of the trees within the center are dead, and the farmer has planted beans and squash to replace the figs.

The originally planted fig was killed by C. fimbriata (stump at left) and the replacement sprout (right) was wilting and had dark discoloration, typical of C. fimbriata infections, in the xylem.

Mango Wilt, Caused by Ceratocystis fimbriata:
Recently killed mango tree in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro State. The disease is epidemic in this region. Here, only a portion of the tree has died, but the fungus will spread to other branches and eventually kill the whole tree. The discoloration in mango xylem is typical for discoloration caused by C. fimbriata in other hosts.

Wilt and Canker of Coffee, Caused by Ceratocystis fimbriata:
Wilting coffee trees in Costa Rica, with infections at the base, probably originating from the soil. Vascular streaking at the base of an infected coffee tree with the bark removed. A closer view of vascular streaking in the xylem of an infected coffee tree.

Other Canker Stain-Type Diseases in USA Caused byCeratocystis spp.:

 Perennial canker on an aspen in Colorado caused by C. populicola. The disease is not often lethal in North America, but it is in Poland , where the fungus was apparently introduced.

 Leaf discoloration, wilting and dieback in a coppiced sycamore plantation in North Carolina caused by C. platani.

The pathogen appears to be native to eastern United States and has been problematic in plantations and ornamental plantings. It was introduced to southern Europe, where it is causing serious losses to London plane.


Black discoloration in an ornamental sycamore in Modesto, California, where the pathogen was also introduced.
Xylem stain and canker in almond in California caused by C variospora. The disease has been called mallet canker because it often followed wounding of the trees with mallets to collect the almond fruit.  

Stain and wilt symptoms on bitternut hickory in Iowa caused by C. caryae or C. smalleyi. The late Gene Smalley at the University of Wisconsin had been working with this disease and its possible association with bark beetles, so the bark beetle-associated species was named after him. .



(A special section on Ceratocystis wilt of cacao, caused by C. cacaofunesta, is available: Cacao.html)

For diseases caused by Ceratocystis paradoxa, C. fagacearum, C. virescens and Chalara australis:

Other Ceratocystis Caused Diseases

For more research on Ceratocystis: CERRES.html

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