Rothamsted Research, Plant-Pathogen Interactions Division, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 2JQ, UK
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Accepted for publication 12 April 2005.
Strobilurin fungicides or quinone outside inhibitors (QoIs) have been used successfully to control Septoria leaf blotch in the United Kingdom since 1997. However, QoI-resistant isolates of Mycosphaerella graminicola were reported for the first time at Rothamsted during the summer of 2002. Sequence analysis of the cytochrome b gene revealed that all resistant isolates carried a mutation resulting in the replacement of glycine by alanine at codon 143 (G143A). Extensive monitoring using real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing revealed that fungicide treatments based on QoIs rapidly selected for isolates carrying resistant A143 (R) alleles within field populations. This selection is driven mainly by polycyclic dispersal of abundantly produced asexual conidia over short distances. In order to investigate the role of sexually produced airborne ascospores in the further spread of R alleles, a method integrating spore trapping with real-time PCR assays was developed. This method enabled us to both quantify the number of M. graminicola ascospores in air samples as well as estimate the frequency of R alleles in ascospore populations. As expected, most ascospores were produced at the end of the growing season during senescence of the wheat crop. However, a rapid increase in R-allele frequency, from 35 to 80%, was measured immediately in airborne ascospore populations sampled in a wheat plot after the first QoI application at growth stage 32. After the second QoI application, most R-allele frequencies measured for M. graminicola populations present in leaves and aerosols sampled from the treated plot exceeded 90%. Spatial sampling and testing of M. graminicola flag leaf populations derived from ascospores in the surrounding crop showed that ascospores carrying R alleles can spread readily within the crop at distances of up to 85 m. After harvest, fewer ascospores were detected in air samples and the R-allele frequencies measured were influenced by ascospores originating from nearby wheat fields.
© 2005 The American Phytopathological Society