The effect of sublethal doses of fungicides on fungicide-resistant Pythium isolates is unknown but potentially relevant to disease management. Occasional grower reports of Pythium disease increases after fungicide applications and our observations of greater radial growth in vitro on fungicide-amended media than on nonamended media suggests that Pythium isolates may be stimulated by sublethal doses of fungicides. The objectives of this study were to determine whether Pythium isolates were stimulated by sublethal doses of mefenoxam in vitro and whether this stimulation had any influence on Pythium damping-off of geranium seedlings. A mefenoxam-resistant isolate of Pythium aphanidermatum displayed 10% mean radial growth increase in vitro with mefenoxam at 1 × 10–10 μg/ml compared with growth on nonamended agar (nonsignificant). Geranium seedlings treated with one of eight mefenoxam concentrations were inoculated with 5-mm-diameter colonized agar plugs and evaluated for disease severity every 24 h. The area under the disease progress curve and the survival curve were estimated for each treatment and compared. Significant increases in damping-off were observed with mefenoxam at 1 × 10–6 and 1 × 10–10 μg/ml. Our data indicate that a Pythium isolate with resistance to mefenoxam can be stimulated by sublethal doses of the fungicide, and that this stimulation can result in significantly higher rates of Pythium damping-off of geranium seedlings.
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