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Fungicide resistance: The dose rate debate

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It makes economic sense to use as little fungicide as possible on a crop. In many settings, it is common to apply less than the manufacturer's recommended dose. If sources of disease are scarce, or conditions are unsuitable for it to increase, the reduced control from a low dose may be adequate. In other cases, a big reduction in dose may cause little reduction in control, again permitting savings – especially for growers prepared to run a little risk. But the label recommendations for most fungicides state that to avoid resistance, a full dose must always be used. Are individual cost-savings therefore endangering everyone's access to an exceptionally useful tool? The emergence of fungicide resistance is evolution in action. In all cases, it involves the genetic replacement of the original susceptible population of the pathogen by a new population with genetically distinct biochemistry, which confers resistance. The resistant biochemistry originates in rare genetic mutations, so rare that initially the population is hardly altered. Replacement of susceptible forms by resistant ones happens because, with fungicide present, the resistant form multiplies more rapidly than the susceptible form. The key point to notice is that only the relative rates of multiplication of the resistant and susceptible types are involved in the evolution of resistance. The absolute rates are irrelevant.


Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1564/20jun02

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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