Fluorescence Digital Image Gallery

Corn Smut

Corn infected with the fungus Ustilago maydis forms large, swollen, kernel-like globules with soft black flesh covered by a silvery gray skin. Called huitlacoche (pronounced wee-tlah-KOH-cheh), the native Nahuatl word, this dish is characterized by an inky, mushroom flavor and has apparently been eaten in central Mexico for thousands of years. In the United States, after decades of trying to eradicate corn smut, some farmers are attempting to grow corn with large corn smut infestations because the fungus is becoming a prized gourmet food item, garnering much higher prices than healthy corn.

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