Karnal bunt, also known as partial bunt, is caused by the fungus Tilletia indica and does not occur in Australia. It does occur in the USA, Mexico, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of Nepal and Iraq.

It is most likely that if karnal bunt was to arrive in Australia it will be initially detected in a seed lot because of its odour.

Like bunt of wheat, grain affected with karnal bunt also has a strong fishy odour. Closer examination of a seed lot affected with karnal bunt will reveal partially bunted seeds as only part of the grain is effected by disease, (Figure 4.10).

Karnal bunt is most likely to enter Australia either on diseased grain or as spores on travellers’ clothing. To prevent the introduction of this disease to Australia it is important that all seed imports to Australia occur through appropriate quarantine facilities, and that travellers to overseas farms thoroughly wash all clothing on return to Australia. Suspect samples must be reported immediately. Call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline (1800 084 881).

Figure 4.10 Wheat grains affected by karnal bunt. Note that only part of the grain is bunted, this is a distinguishing feature between karnal bunt and covered smut

Further Information

More detailed information can be obtained from the DEDJTR AgNotes Series www.vic.gov.au/graindiseases

Victorian Cereal Diseases Guide (AG 1160) www.vic.gov.au/cerealdiseaseguide

Victorian Winter Crop Summary www.vic.gov.au/victorianwintercropsummary

Wallwork H (2015) Cereal Seed Treatments (SARDI) www.pir.sa.gov.au, http://www.pir.sa.gov.au/_data/assets/pdf_file/0005/237920/cerealseedtreat2015_web.pdf

Wallwork H (2000) Cereal Leaf and Stem Diseases (SARDI) www.grdc.com.au/bookshop

Grain Trade Australia Commodity Standards http://www.graintrade.org.au


Diseases in Pulses: Chickpeas