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Insensitivity to Ridomil Gold (Mefenoxam) Found Among Field Isolates of Phytophthora capsici Causing Phytophthora Blight on Bell Pepper in North Carolina and New Jersey

June 1998 , Volume 82 , Number  6
Pages  711.4 - 711.4

Greg Parra and Jean Ristaino , Department of Plant Pathology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh 27695

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Accepted for publication 14 April 1998.

Phytophthora blight caused by the pathogen Phytophthora capsici has caused economic losses in bell pepper and cucurbit fields in the U.S., and the prevalence of the disease has increased in recent years. The pathogen can be dispersed in soil, with surface water, and via splash dispersal from the soil to foliage. Management of the disease relies on modifications in cultural practices, crop rotation, and judicious use of fungicides. Disease occurred in fields that were sprayed with multiple applications of Ridomil Gold (mefenoxam) according to labeled recommendations in 1997. Mefenoxam is the active enantiomer contained in the racemic fungicide metalaxyl. Mefenoxam was widely used on bell pepper for the first time in 1997, but disease was widespread. Insensitivity to mefenoxam and metalaxyl has not been reported previously in field isolates of P. capsici. However, selection for metalaxyl insensitive isolates in the laboratory after mutagenesis has been reported. Insensitivity to metalaxyl has been reported among other Oomycete pathogens including Phytophthora infestans, Pseudoperonospora cubensis, Peronospora tabacina, Bremia lactucae, and Pythium spp. Infected plants were collected from 12 fields in North Carolina by the authors and one additional field in New Jersey (courtesy of Steve Johnston). Infected plants (10 to 30 per field) were surface disinfested in 10% bleach and plated on selective media to isolate P. capsici. Colonies of the pathogen were transferred to V8 juice agar or maintained on cornmeal agar slants. Mefenoxam-amended V8 juice agar was prepared at levels of 0, 5, and 100 ppm. Screening for sensitivity was conducted by placing agar plugs containing the pathogen onto two replicate plates of mefenoxam-amended media at each concentration. Isolates were categorized as sensitive if growth was less than 40% of the unamended control at 5 ppm. Intermediate isolates exhibited growth greater than 40% of the unamended control at 5 ppm but less than 40% of the unamended control at 100 ppm mefenoxam. Insensitive isolates exhibited growth greater than 40% of the unamended control at 100 ppm mefenoxam. Concentrations of the fungicide used to screen for insensitivity were within the range applied in the field. Thus far, 161 isolates have been screened for sensitivity. Of these, 54 isolates were classified as sensitive, 15 as intermediate, and 92 or 57% of the isolates were insensitive. Three quarters of the fields sampled contained insensitive isolates and insensitivity ranged from 11 to 80% within fields. Both A1 and A2 mating types were recovered from some fields and insensitive isolates occurred among both mating types. Isolates that were insensitive to mefenoxam were also insensitive to metalaxyl. A significant proportion of the isolates obtained from infected plants in fields where Ridomil Gold has been used recently were insensitive. The ability of insensitive isolates to cause disease on fungicide-treated plants will be studied in further experiments. Isolates collected between 1988 and 1994 were screened and all isolates were sensitive to metalaxyl (Ridomil 2E). A dramatic shift in populations of P. capsici to insensitivity to the new metalaxyl substitute mefenoxam has occurred in bell pepper fields in a 3-year period.

© 1998 The American Phytopathological Society