Fungicides that act as quinone outside inhibitors (QoIs) constitute a fungicide group extensively used against Alternaria late blight of pistachio caused by Alternaria spp. However, developement of resistance to this fungicide class constitutes an important threat for the succesful control of the disease. This study was conducted to determine whether development of resistance to QoIs is associated with a fitness cost, by measuring several biological and epidemiological parameters and estimating the competitive ability in four QoI-resistant and four QoI-sensitive Alternaria alternata isolates. Fitness parameters measured were mycelial growth and spore production in vitro, disease latent period, aggressiveness, and spore production on detached pistachio leaves. The competitive ability of resistant isolates was assessed in coinoculation experiments with sensitive isolates on detached pistachio leaves, using a real-time polymerase chain reaction assay technique. Fitness parameters between grouped QoI-resistant and QoI-sensitive isolates were not significantly different (P = 0.13, 0.21, 0.31, and 0.27 for sporulation in vitro, mycelial growth, incubation period, and sporulation in vivo, respectively), while resistant isolates, as a group, showed a higher aggressiveness (P = 0.01) compared with the sensitive isolates. The data indicate that the resistant strains did not account for a fitness cost compared with the sensitive ones under the conditions of testing. The outcome of the competition experiments was isolate dependent. In two pairs, the resistance frequencies increased whereas, in the remaining two pairs of isolates, resistance frequency decreased, suggesting that the resistant isolates were competitive similarly to the sensitive isolates.
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