A wide range of commercially formulated fungicides cause in vitro effects on mating behavior in specific isolates of Phytophthora infestans, the causal agent of late blight of potato and tomato. Four isolates of P. infestans representing each of the four common US genotypes, US-1, US-6, US-7, and US-8 and varying in their sensitivity to metalaxyl, were exposed to a variety of fungicides used to control late blight in petri dish assays at concentrations ranging from 1 to 100 μg a.i./ml. Exposure of each of these normally heterothallic single mating type isolates of P. infestans to 9 of the 11 commercial fungicide formulations tested resulted in the formation of oospores after 2 to 4 weeks. The highest numbers of oospores were formed on media amended with Ridomil 2E (metalaxyl) and Ridomil Gold EC (mefenoxam) at 0.1 to 10 μg a.i./ml, averaging as many as 471 and 450 oospores per petri dish, respectively. Several other fungicides including Maneb, Manzate (Mancozeb), Curzate (cymoxanil + mancozeb), and Acrobat MZ (dimethomorph + mancozeb) also induced oospore formation, producing from 0 to 200 oospores per plate at fungicide concentrations from 0.1 to 10 μg a.i./ml. The metalaxyl resistant isolates formed oospores in response to the fungicides more often than the metalaxyl sensitive isolates. No oospores were formed on media amended with Bravo (chlorothalonil) or Tattoo C (chlorothalonil + propamocarb HCl) and these compounds completely suppressed growth of the isolates at 0.1 and 1 μg a.i./ml. Three metalaxyl resistant A2 isolates mated with both A1 and A2 isolates after exposure to the fungicides Ridomil 2E and Ridomil Gold EC. Alterations in mating type expression were also observed in a metalaxyl sensitive A1 isolate after exposure to Benlate (benomyl). Copious amounts of chemicals are applied annually to potato and tomato production areas to control late blight. Our results indicate that a wide range of chemically diverse fungicides can induce normally heterothallic metalaxyl resistant isolates of P. infestans to form oospores in vitro after short exposures to the fungicides.
Irish potato famine,
potato late blight,