The dose rate debate: does the risk of fungicide resistance increase or decrease with dose?




This paper reviews the evidence relating to the question: does the risk of fungicide resistance increase or decrease with dose? The development of fungicide resistance progresses through three key phases. During the ‘emergence phase’ the resistant strain has to arise through mutation and invasion. During the subsequent ‘selection phase’, the resistant strain is present in the pathogen population and the fraction of the pathogen population carrying the resistance increases due to the selection pressure caused by the fungicide. During the final phase of ‘adjustment’, the dose or choice of fungicide may need to be changed to maintain effective control over a pathogen population where resistance has developed to intermediate levels. Emergence phase: no experimental publications and only one model study report on the emergence phase, and we conclude that work in this area is needed. Selection phase: all the published experimental work, and virtually all model studies, relate to the selection phase. Seven peer reviewed and four non-peer reviewed publications report experimental evidence. All show increased selection for fungicide resistance with increased fungicide dose, except for one peer reviewed publication that does not detect any selection irrespective of dose and one conference proceedings publication which claims evidence for increased selection at a lower dose. In the mathematical models published, no evidence has been found that a lower dose could lead to a higher risk of fungicide resistance selection. We discuss areas of the dose rate debate that need further study. These include further work on pathogen-fungicide combinations where the pathogen develops partial resistance to the fungicide and work on the emergence phase.