BACKGROUND: QoI fungicides or quinone outside inhibitors (also called strobilurins) have been widely used to control agriculturally important fungal pathogens since their introduction in 1996. Strobilurins block the respiration pathway by inhibiting the cytochrome bc1 complex in mitochondria. Several plant pathogenic fungi have developed field resistance. The first QoI resistance in Mycosphaerella graminicola (Fuckel) Schroter was detected retrospectively in UK in 2001 at a low frequency in QoI-treated plots. During the following seasons, resistance reached high frequencies across northern Europe. The aim of this study was to identify the main evolutionary forces driving the rapid emergence and spread of QoI resistance in M. graminicola populations.
RESULTS: The G143A mutation causing QoI resistance was first detected during 2002 in all tested populations and in eight distinct mtDNA sequence haplotypes. By 2004, 24 different mtDNA haplotypes contained the G143A mutation. Phylogenetic analysis showed that strobilurin resistance was acquired independently through at least four recurrent mutations at the same site of cytochrome b. Estimates of directional migration rates showed that the majority of gene flow in Europe had occurred in a west-to-east direction.
CONCLUSION: This study demonstrated that recurring mutations independently introduced the QoI resistance allele into different genetic and geographic backgrounds. The resistant haplotypes then increased in frequency owing to the strong fungicide selection and spread eastward through wind dispersal of ascospores. Copyright © 2008 Society of Chemical Industry