For more than three decades, the class of azole fungicides has represented an important tool for the management of fungal diseases in various industries including agriculture and human medicine. Azole fungicides are vital in combatting life-threatening fungal infections of immunocompromised patients, and for safeguarding the food supply by controlling damaging fungal pathogens in many arable and horticultural crops.
Scientific and public reports have linked the reduced efficacy of medical azoles in clinical settings with the use of azole fungicides in agriculture and other environments such as material preservation. The use of such fungicides in certain agricultural segments is suspected to increase the frequency of azole-resistant clinical isolates of Aspergillus fumigatus, a saprophyte and organic matter decaying fungus which is an opportunistic human pathogen but not a target for any fungicide application in agriculture.
The crop protection industry takes the issue of the possible selection of azole-resistance in A. fumigatus in agriculture very seriously. A science-based approach is necessary to address this issue and to identify effective mitigation measures.
CropLife International proactively contributes to understanding the relevance and scope of this issue. An example is CropLife International’s support of a four-year project with an internationally recognized research institution (Rothamsted Research / UK) under the supervision of an independent scientific advisory board comprised of experts from both medical and agricultural fungicide research. The results of studies conducted as a part of this project will be published in peer-reviewed journals. A preliminary non-peer-reviewed summary of the project can also be requested here.
In addition, CropLife International has formed a project team on Antifungal Resistance (AFR) amongst its member companies to coordinate and follow-up on activities that support a safe and sustainable use of azole fungicides in the interest of both human health and the food supply.
If you would like to learn more about this topic, you can find additional background information here:
- Schoustra, S.E. et al., 2019, ‘New insights in the development of azole-resistance in Aspergillus fumigatus,’ RIVM Letter report 2018-0131
- Gisi, U, 2014, ‘Assessment of selection and resistance risk for demethylation inhibitor fungicides in Aspergillus fumigatus in agriculture and medicine: a critical review,’ Pest Mangement Science, vol .70, no.3, pp. 352-364
- Dutch Ministry of Health, 2017, ‘Azole‐resistance selection in Aspergillus fumigatus: Final Report: 2015-2017’
- Verweij, P.E. et al., 2020, ‘The one health problem of azole resistance in Aspergillus fumigatus: current insights and future research agenda,’ Fungal Biology Reviews