Clubroot is a common disease of cabbages, radishes, turnips and other plants belonging to the family Cruciferae (mustard family). It is caused by Plasmodiophora brassicae, which was once considered a slime mold but is now put in the group Phytomyxea. It has as many as nine races. Gall formation or distortion takes place on latent roots and gives the shape of a club or spindle. In the cabbage such attacks on the roots cause undeveloped heads or a failure to head at all, followed often by decline in vigor or by death. It is an important disease, affecting an estimated 10% of the total cultured area world-wide.
Historical reports of clubroot date back to the 13th century in Europe. In the late 19th century, a severe epidemic of clubroot destroyed large proportions of the cabbage crop in St. Petersburg. The Russian scientist Mikhail Woronin eventually identified the cause of clubroot as a "plasmodiophorous organism" in 1875, and gave it the name Plasmodiophora brassicae.
In 18th, 19th and early 20th century Britain clubroot was sometimes called finger and toe, fingers and toes, anbury, or ambury, these last two also meaning a soft tumor on a horse.
The potential of cultural practices to reduce crop losses due to clubroot are limited, and chemical treatments to control the fungus are either banned due to environmental regulations or are not cost effective. Breeding of resistant cultivars therefore is a promising alternative.