The causal agent of brown rot on stone and pome fruits, Monilinia fructicola (G. Wint.), is a quarantine pathogen in Europe. It has been detected in Austria (later eradicated), Spain, the Czech Republic, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland (1). In the United States and other countries, M. fructicola isolates were reported to show resistance to different classes of fungicides, including methyl benzimidazole carbamates (MBC) (2). Lichou et al. (2) reported the presence of isolates resistant to the MBC carbendazim in France, but the mechanisms inducing MBC resistance in these isolates were not studied. Ma et al. (3) in California, and more recently, Zhu et al. (4) in South Carolina, demonstrated that the molecular mechanisms accounting for low and high levels of resistance to MBC fungicides in M. fructicola isolates were the mutations H6Y and E198A, respectively, in the β-tubulin gene. Four M. fructicola isolates each from Italy, France, Spain, and Switzerland (16 isolates total), all having an unknown level of MBC resistance, were selected. In each isolate, the section of the β-tubulin gene containing the two potentially mutant codons was PCR-amplified with the primers TubA and TubR1 (3) and the amplicons were sequenced directly. Sequence analysis revealed the amino acid histidine (H) at codon 6 in all the isolates, which would not predict MBC resistance, while alanine (A) at codon 198 (the mutation predictive of a high level of MBC resistance) was found in all isolates from Spain and Switzerland and in three isolates each from France and Italy. A representative sequence of the four identical partial β-tubulin gene sequences from the Swiss isolates was submitted to GenBank under the Accession No. HQ709265. All isolates were tested in a potato dextrose agar (PDA) petri dish assay for resistance to the MBC fungicide thiophanate-methyl (Nippon Soda Co., Ltd., Tokyo, Japan) at the discriminatory dose of 50 μg/ml (4). All isolates with the E198A mutation were able to grow on the media, while the two isolates without the E198A mutation were not able to grow. The result indicated that most isolates had a high level of resistance to the MBC fungicide. To our knowledge, this is the first report of the presence of the E198A mutation conferring resistance to MBC fungicides in European isolates of M. fructicola. As the mutation appears to be widely distributed, we anticipate that MBC fungicides may be ineffective at controlling brown rot in countries with occurrence of M. fructicola.
References: (1) M. Hilber-Bodmer et al. Plant Dis. 94:643, 2010. (2) J. Lichou et al. Phytoma 547:22, 2002. (3) Z. H. Ma et al. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 69:7145, 2003. (4) F. X. Zhu et al. Plant Dis. 94:1511, 2010.