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A novel substitution I381V in the sterol 14α-demethylase (CYP51) of Mycosphaerella graminicola is differentially selected by azole fungicides


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The recent reduction in the efficacy of azole fungicides in controlling Septoria leaf blotch of wheat, caused by Mycosphaerella graminicola, has prompted concerns over possible development of resistance, particularly in light of the recent emergence of widespread resistance to quinone outside inhibitors (QoIs). We have recently implicated alterations in the target-encoding sterol 14α-demethylase protein (CYP51), and over-expression of genes encoding efflux pumps, in reducing sensitivity to the azole class of sterol demethylation inhibitors (DMIs) in M. graminicola. Here we report on the prevalence and selection of two CYP51 alterations, substitution I381V and deletion of codons 459 and 460 (ΔY459/G460), in populations of Mgraminicola. Neither alteration has previously been identified in human or plant pathogenic fungi resistant to azoles. The presence of ΔY459/G460 showed a continuous distribution of EC50 values across isolates with either I381 or V381, and had no measurable effect on azole sensitivity. Data linking fungicide sensitivity with the presence of I381V in M. graminicola show for the first time that a particular CYP51 alteration is differentially selected by different azoles in field populations of a plant pathogen. Substitution I381V although not an absolute requirement for reduced azole sensitivity, is selected by tebuconazole and difenoconazole treatment, suggesting an adaptive advantage in the presence of these two compounds. Prochloraz treatments appeared to select negatively for I381V, whereas other azole treatments did not or only weakly impacted on the prevalence of this substitution. These findings suggest treatments with different members of the azole class of fungicides could offer a resistance management strategy.