Decreasing azole sensitivity of Z. tritici in Europe contributes to reduced and varying field efficacy
Septoria tritici blotch (STB; Zymoseptoria tritici) is the most important leaf disease of wheat in Northern and Western Europe. The problem of fungicide resistance in Z. tritici populations is challenging future control options. In order to investigate differences in azole performances against STB, 55 field trials were carried out during four seasons (2015–2018). These trials were undertaken in ten different countries across Europe covering a diversity of climatic zones and agricultural practices. During all four seasons, four single azoles (epoxiconazole, prothioconazole, tebuconazole and metconazole) were tested. Increasing variability in the performances of these azoles against STB was observed across Europe. The efficacy of the tested azoles varied considerably across the continent and between countries. The shifts in disease control from these commonly used azoles were confirmed by increasing EC₅₀ values for epoxiconazole, prothioconazole-desthio and metconazole. The sensitivity towards tebuconazole remained relatively low across the four years. The frequencies of CYP51 mutations varied substantially across Europe, with a clear pattern of significantly decreasing frequencies of D134G, V136A and S524T in the local Z. tritici populations from west to east. In contrast, no major differences were seen for CYP51 mutations V136C, A379 and I381V. The four azoles showed different levels of cross-resistance, which again depended on specific CYP51 mutations. Across the four seasons, the single azoles increased the yields between 9 and 11% on average.