Will Triazoles Still Be of Importance in Disease Control of Zymoseptoria tritici in the Future?
Septoria tritici blotch (STB), caused by Zymoseptoria tritici, is one of the most important foliar wheat diseases worldwide. Current control strategies of STB rely mainly on fungicides, whereby triazoles (demethylation inhibitors; DMIs) have been the backbone in the control of Z. tritici in the last decades. However, in recent years a gradual loss of sensitivity of Z. tritici to several active ingredients of the triazole group has been reported in several European wheat-growing areas. Nevertheless, a new triazole fungicide, namely, mefentrifluconazole, has recently become available in disease management of STB, which belongs to a completely new triazole subclass, the so-called isopropanol triazoles. In this study, the trend in sensitivity development of Z. tritici towards older triazoles (tebuconazole, prothioconazole, and propiconazole) and the new isopropanol triazole mefentrifluconazole was determined in microtiter assays using Z. tritici field populations isolated in 1999, 2009, 2014, and 2020 in a high-disease-pressure and high-fungicide-input area in northern Germany in order to investigate whether the loss of sensitivity of Z. tritici to older triazoles also applies to mefentrifluconazole. For the three triazole fungicides tebuconazole, prothioconazole and propiconazole, a significant shift towards decreasing sensitivity of Z. tritici field populations was observed from 1999 to 2020, whereas the efficacy of mefentrifluconazole in reducing the in vitro fungal growth by 50% (EC50) remained unchanged over the investigated period, demonstrating a stable sensitivity of Z. tritici towards mefentrifluconazole. Although older triazoles are suffering from a loss of sensitivity of Z. tritici field populations due to the selection and spread of less triazole sensitive strains within the Z. tritici population, the efficacy of the new triazole mefentrifluconazole with its unique isopropanol unit was not affected by these changes within the Z. tritici population. Thus, the introduction of such new molecular units could also represent an important contribution for older groups of active ingredients, which previously suffered from a loss of sensitivity.