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posted on 13.04.2018, 04:12 by Katherine G. Zulak, Belinda A. Cox, Madeline A. Tucker, Richard P. Oliver, Francisco J. Lopez-Ruiz

The increased occurrence of triazole fungicide resistant strains of Blumeria graminis f. sp. hordei (Bgh) is an economic concern for the barley industry in Australia and elsewhere. High levels of resistance to triazoles in the field are caused by two separate point mutations in the Cyp51 gene, Y136F and S509T. Early detection of these mutations arising in pathogen field populations is important as this allows time for changes in fungicide practices to be adopted, thus mitigating potential yield losses due to fungicide failure and preventing the resistance from becoming dominant. A digital PCR (dPCR) assay has been developed for the detection and quantification of the Y136F and S509T mutations in the Bgh Cyp51 gene. Mutation levels were quantifiable as low as 0.2% in genomic DNA extractions and field samples. This assay was applied to the high throughput screening of Bgh field and bait trial samples from barley growing regions across Australia in the 2015 and 2016 growing seasons and identified the S509T mutation for the first time in the Eastern states of Australia. This is the first report on the use of digital PCR technology for fungicide resistance detection and monitoring in agriculture. Here we describe the potential application of dPCR for the screening of fungicide resistance mutations in a network of specifically designed bait trials. The combination of these two tools constitute an early warning system for the development of fungicide resistance that allows for the timely adjustment of management practices.