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Optimal Fungicide Application Timings for Disease Control Are Also an Effective Anti-Resistance Strategy: A Case Study for Zymoseptoria tritici (Mycosphaerella graminicola) on Wheat

December 2013 , Volume 103 , Number  12
Pages  1,209 - 1,219

F. van den Berg, F. van den Bosch, and N. D. Paveley

First and second authors: Department of Computational and Systems Biology, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Hertfordshire AL5 2JQ, UK; and third author: ADAS High Mowthorpe, Duggleby, Malton, North Yorkshire, YO17 8BP, UK.

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Accepted for publication 5 July 2013.

Strategies to slow fungicide resistance evolution often advocate early “prophylactic” fungicide application and avoidance of “curative” treatments where possible. There is little evidence to support such guidance. Fungicide applications are usually timed to maximize the efficiency of disease control during the yield-forming period. This article reports mathematical modeling to explore whether earlier timings might be more beneficial for fungicide resistance management compared with the timings that are optimal for efficacy. There are two key timings for fungicide treatment of winter wheat in the United Kingdom: full emergence of leaf three (counting down the canopy) and full emergence of the flag leaf (leaf 1). These timings (referred to as T1 and T2, respectively) maximize disease control on the upper leaves of the crop canopy that are crucial to yield. A differential equation model was developed to track the dynamics of leaf emergence and senescence, epidemic growth, fungicide efficacy, and selection for a resistant strain. The model represented Zymoseptoria tritici on wheat treated twice at varying spray timings. At all fungicide doses tested, moving one or both of the two sprays earlier than the normal T1 and T2 timings reduced selection but also reduced efficacy. Despite these opposing effects, at a fungicide dose just sufficient to obtain effective control, the T1 and T2 timings optimized fungicide effective life (the number of years that effective control can be maintained). At a higher dose, earlier spray timings maximized effective life but caused some reduction in efficacy, whereas the T1 and T2 timings maximized efficacy but resulted in an effective life 1 year shorter than the maximum achievable.

Additional keywords: healthy area duration, leaf blotch, selection ratio.

© 2013 The American Phytopathological Society