Volume 4 Part 1 Article 36: “Watery Stipe” – a Preliminary Investigation

Volume 4 Part 1 Article 36
Year 1960
Title: “Watery Stipe” – a Preliminary Investigation
Author: D.G. Gandy


The disorder which affected many mushroom farms in the United Kingdom in 1957 became known by several names, of which Brown Disease and Watery Stipe were the most widely used. Symptoms were similar in many respects to those described by Sinden and Häuser for La France disease (3) and some of the outbreaks were subsequently identified as such by them. There were, however, other symptoms which did not correspond, and for this reason the name Watery Stipe is being retained. The use of this name does not exclude the possibility that it is La France disease, but as the cause of the latter is not known, a reliable method of distinguishing it from other possibly similar disorders is not available.

The symptoms of Watery Stipe are very variable and this has led to much confusion in identification. The most important have been great reduction in cropping, the production of sporophores which turned brown and died at different stages of development and the presence of translucent, waterlogged areas of tissue which gave the stipes a streaked appearance. There are conflicting reports on whether the condition spreads and whether the spawn degenerates. At present identification is based upon an assessment of these very variable factors. The influence of pests upon the type and severity of symptoms is another aspect of the problem, the importance of which is not known. Heavy infestations of Cecid larvae can cause the production of brown mushrooms with small pilei, long stipes and watery streaks. Watery Stipe outbreaks have been particularly severe during periods of warm, humid weather and, together with the simultaneous appearance of the disorder throughout a farm, have supported the view that they are caused by unfavourable environmental conditions. In other cases the disorder apparently spread from one locus, which was consistent with the presence of an infective agent. Two possible explanations for these differences are that (a) there is more than one disorder of this type, and (b) there is only one disease but its behaviour is very greatly influenced by the environment.

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