Tar Spot of Corn

Two independent scenarios justify the fear of emerging and re-emerging plant diseases.  First, pathogens are increasingly spreading around the world, some with dramatic effects on plant populations.  Second, native pathogen strains may become increasingly problematic under a changing climate that could favor epidemics. Tar Spot was first detected in the United States in 2015 in both Indiana and Illinois. Since its discovery, it has also been confirmed in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Florida. 

Unfortunately, there is limited information on the biology of the pathogen(s) that causes tar spot, and the epidemiology and management of this disease.  Without adequate information, it will be hard to contain and control a disease of this magnitude.  For those reasons, proactive approaches are needed to minimize crop losses.

The Cruz Lab has partnered with other labs and proposed to initiate research to gain a better understanding of this disease on corn and identify management and yield loss mitigation options for growers in Indiana and beyond.  Strategic collaborations with national research and stakeholder institutions will provide a unique opportunity for the development of prevention and management strategies for this emerging disease that threatens agriculture.


  • Tar Spot of Corn: Characterizing the ecology and epidemiology of an understudied and high-profile disease.
  • A digital epidemiology decision support system for efficient development of effective management strategies against the tar spot disease.
  • Development of an automated tar spot quantification system to assess epidemics based on RGB imaging and statistical analysis.
  • From the sky to the cell: characterizing the epidemiology and biology of tar spot disease of corn.
  • Characterizing the Distribution, Biology and Management of Corn Tar Spot to Reduce Its Impact in Indiana.