Fungicide Resistance Found In Soybean Field

Research conducted by the University of Illinois (U of I) and the University of Tennessee confirms that the fungus that causes frogeye leaf spot (FLS) of soybean, Cercospora sojina, has shown resistance to strobilurin fungicides in a Tennessee soybean field.

“Strobilurin fungicides belong to the chemistry class known as the quinone outside inhibitors (QoIs), which are the most widely used group of foliar fungicides applied to field crops to manage plant diseases,” says Carl Bradley, U of I Extension plant pathologist.

These fungicides can be sold as one-active ingredient products such as Headline (BASF Corp.) or Quadris (Syngenta Crop Protection) or in products that combine them with a fungicide in a different chemistry class known as the demethylation inhibitors, sometimes referred to as triazoles, he says. Products that include a strobilurin-triazole combination of active ingredients include Quilt (Syngenta Crop Protection) and Stratego (Bayer CropScience).

Strobilurin fungicides have been deemed high risk for fungal pathogens developing resistance to them. This high-risk status has been determined by the Fungicide Resistance Action Committee (FRAC), an international committee that evaluates fungicides’ likelihood of developing resistance.

“Plant pathogenic fungi developing resistance to strobilurin fungicides is not new,” Bradley says. “This has already occurred in potatoes and other crop and disease systems where multiple fungicide applications occur during the growing season.”

In the major soybean production areas in the U.S., soybean fields are generally treated once during the season with a fungicide (if treated at all), Bradley says.

“However, we were somewhat surprised to find resistance so soon,” he adds. “Every time you apply a fungicide, you increase the selection pressure and the opportunity to select out individuals in the pathogen population that have resistance or reduced sensitivity to the fungicide.”

In 2008, Bradley’s laboratory began a project funded by the Illinois Soybean Association to develop a fungicide resistance monitoring program. Since then, his lab has been obtaining samples, conducting tests and monitoring isolates collected from Illinois.

“This year, we decided to cast our net a little farther, particularly in the South,” he says. “In Tennessee, FLS is a major soybean foliar disease. Dr. Melvin Newman of the University of Tennessee sent me samples from a field that had been sprayed twice with strobilurin fungicides but still continued to have high levels of FLS, which was an indication of potential fungicide resistance.”

Bradley’s team confirmed that the sensitivity of the Tennessee isolates was reduced as compared to the sensitivity of baseline isolates.

In petri dish tests conducted at the U of I, spores from isolates of Cercospora sojina germinated in the presence of high concentrations of azoxystrobin, pyraclostrobin, and trifloxystrobin, which are the strobilurin active ingredients found in Quadris, Headline, and Stratego.

“This proved we were dealing with isolates that have reduced sensitivity to strobilurin fungicides,” he said. “Currently, Tennessee is the only state in which we have documented isolates like these, but we are continuing to perform tests on isolates collected from fields in Illinois and other states.”

(Source: Jennifer Shike, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois)

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