Melvin D. Bolton, United States Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service, Northern Crop Science Laboratory, Fargo, ND, and the Department of Plant Pathology, North Dakota State University, Fargo;
Viviana Rivera-Varas and
Luis E. del Río Mendoza, Department of Plant Pathology, North Dakota State University, Fargo;
Mohamed F. R. Khan, Department of Plant Pathology, North Dakota State University, Fargo, and University of Minnesota, St. Paul; and
Gary A. Secor, Department of Plant Pathology, North Dakota State University, Fargo
Cercospora leaf spot (CLS) of sugar beet is caused by the fungus Cercospora beticola. CLS management practices include the application of the sterol demethylation inhibitor (DMI) fungicides tetraconazole, difenoconazole, and prothioconazole. Evaluating resistance to DMIs is a major focus for CLS fungicide resistance management. Isolates were collected in 1997 and 1998 (baseline sensitivity to tetraconazole, prothioconazole, or difenoconazole) and 2007 through 2010 from the major sugar-beet-growing regions of Minnesota and North Dakota and assessed for in vitro sensitivity to two or three DMI fungicides. Most (47%) isolates collected in 1997–98 exhibited 50% effective concentration (EC50) values for tetraconazole of <0.01 μg ml–1, whereas no isolates could be found in this EC50 range in 2010. Since 2007, annual median and mean tetraconazole EC50 values have generally been increasing, and the frequency of isolates with EC50 values >0.11 μg ml–1 increased from 2008 to 2010. In contrast, the frequency of isolates with EC50 values for prothioconazole of >1.0 μg ml–1 has been decreasing since 2007. Annual median difenoconazole EC50 values appears to be stable, although annual mean EC50 values generally have been increasing for this fungicide. Although EC50 values are important for gauging fungicide sensitivity trends, a rigorous comparison of the relationship between in vitro EC50 values and loss of fungicide efficacy in planta has not been conducted for C. beticola. To explore this, 12 isolates exhibiting a wide range of tetraconazole EC50 values were inoculated to sugar beet but no tetraconazole was applied. No relationship was found between isolate EC50 value and disease severity. To assess whether EC50 values are related to fungicide efficacy in planta, sugar beet plants were sprayed with various dilutions of Eminent, the commercial formulation of tetraconazole, and subsequently inoculated with isolates that exhibited very low, medium, or high tetraconazole EC50 values. The high EC50 isolate caused significantly more disease than isolates with medium or very low EC50 values at the field application rate and most reduced rates. Because in vitro sensitivity testing is typically carried out with the active ingredient of the commercial fungicide, we investigated whether loss of disease control was the same for tetraconazole as for the commercial product Eminent. The high EC50 isolate caused more disease on plants treated with tetraconazole than Eminent but disease severity was not different between plants inoculated with the very low EC50 isolate.