Wet rot of potatoes may be due to various fungi, and, in excess of water, to putrefactive bacteria (e.g. Clostridium), which destroy the cell-walls. The flesh becomes soft, then soup-like, and finally putrefies to a liquid mass with a vile smell of butyric acid, etc., in which the starch grains may be seen floating.
Tubers are often found with the cork burst and peeling in shreds, the flesh more or less converted into a putrid and stinking pulp, with a spotted brown boundary of partly destroyed but firmer tissue between the dark utterly rotten and the white and still firm healthy flesh. The principal agent in the destruction of the tissues is Clostridium, an anaerobic bacillus which consumes the cell-walls but leaves the starch intact. Hence a thoroughly decomposed tuber consists of a cork bag full of starch and foetid liquid. In the dried condition the flesh shows a brown marbling; this passes into a soft soupy starchy part, and here and there may be violet grey cavities lined with Spicaria, Hypomyces, etc., the white stromata of the latter often appearing externally. The excavations are filled with loose starch grains, and bounded by cork and cambium formed in the peripheral cells. The cell-walls eventually undergo slimy decomposition.
Spicaria, Fusisporium, various moulds, and bacteria may all be associated with wet-rot.