A dispensable paralog of succinate dehydrogenase subunit C mediates standing resistance towards a subclass of SDHI fungicides in Zymoseptoria tritici

Diana Steinhauer, Marie Salat, Regula Frey, Andreas Mosbach, Torsten Luksch, Dirk Balmer, Rasmus Hansen, Stephanie Widdison, Grace Logan, Robert A. Dietrich, Gert H.J. Kema, Stephane Bieri, Helge Sierotzki, Stefano F.F. Torriani, Gabriel Scalliet*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor (SDHI) fungicides are widely used for the control of a broad range of fungal diseases. This has been the most rapidly expanding fungicide group in terms of new molecules discovered and introduced for agricultural use over the past fifteen years. A particular pattern of differential sensitivity (resistance) to the stretched heterocycle amide SDHIs (SHA-SDHIs), a subclass of chemically-related SDHIs, was observed in naïve Zymoseptoria tritici populations not previously exposed to these chemicals. Subclassspecific resistance was confirmed at the enzyme level but did not correlate with the genotypes of the succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) encoding genes. Mapping and characterization of the molecular mechanisms responsible for standing SHA-SDHI resistance in natural field isolates identified a gene paralog of SDHC, termed ZtSDHC3, which encodes for an alternative C subunit of succinate dehydrogenase, named alt-SDHC. Using reverse genetics, we showed that alt-SDHC associates with the three other SDH subunits, leading to a fully functional enzyme and that a unique Qp-site residue within the alt-SDHC protein confers SHA-SDHI resistance. Enzymatic assays, computational modelling and docking simulations for the two SQR enzymes (altC-SQR, WT-SQR) enabled us to describe enzymeinhibitor interactions at an atomistic level and to propose rational explanations for differential potency and resistance across SHA-SDHIs. European Z. tritici populations displayed a presence (20-30%) / absence polymorphism of ZtSDHC3, as well as differences in ZtSDHC3 expression levels and splicing efficiency. These polymorphisms have a strong impact on SHA-SDHI resistance phenotypes. Characterization of the ZtSDHC3 promoter in European Z. tritici populations suggests that transposon insertions are associated with the strongest resistance phenotypes. These results establish that a dispensable paralogous gene determines SHA-SDHIs fungicide resistance in natural populations of Z. tritici. This study paves the way to an increased awareness of the role of fungicidal target paralogs in resistance to fungicides and demonstrates the paramount importance of population genomics in fungicide discovery.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1007780
JournalPLoS Pathogens
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2019


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