From 1997 onward, the strobilurin fungicide azoxystrobin was widely used in the main banana-production zone in Costa Rica against Mycosphaerella fijiensis var. difformis causing black Sigatoka of banana. By 2000, isolates of M. fijiensis with resistance to the quinolene oxidase inhibitor fungicides were common on some farms in the area. The cause was a single point mutation from glycine to alanine in the fungal target protein, cytochrome b gene. An amplification refractory mutation system Scorpion quantitative polymerase chain reaction assay was developed and used to determine the frequency of G143A allele in samples of M. fijiensis. Two hierarchical surveys of spatial variability, in 2001 and 2002, found no significant variation in frequency on spatial scales <10 m. This allowed the frequency of G143A alleles on a farm to be estimated efficiently by averaging single samples taken at two fixed locations. The frequency of G143A allele in bulk samples from 11 farms throughout Costa Rica was determined at 2-month intervals. There was no direct relationship between the number of spray applications and the frequency of G143A on individual farms. Instead, the frequency converged toward regional averages, presumably due to the large-scale mixing of ascospores dispersed by wind. Using trap plants in an area remote from the main producing area, immigration of resistant ascospores was detected as far as 6 km away both with and against the prevailing wind.
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