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Pest Manag Sci. 2017 Oct;73(10):1987-1993. doi: 10.1002/ps.4607. Epub 2017 Jul 24.

Does agricultural use of azole fungicides contribute to resistance in the human pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus?

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Orchard House, Bristol Road, Chew Stoke, Bristol, UK.


Azole resistance in human fungal pathogens has increased over the past twenty years, especially in immunocompromised patients. Similarities between medical and agricultural azoles, and extensive azole (14α-demethylase inhibitor, DMI) use in crop protection, prompted speculation that resistance in patients with aspergillosis originated in the environment. Aspergillus species, and especially Aspergillus fumigatus, are the largest cause of patient deaths from fungi. Azole levels in soils following crop spraying, and differences in sensitivity between medical and agricultural azoles (DMIs), indicate weaker selection in cropping systems than in patients receiving azole therapy. Most fungi have just one CYP51 paralogue (isozyme CYP51B), but in Aspergillus sp. mutations conferring azole resistance are largely confined to a second paralogue, CYP51A. Binding within the active centre is similar for medical and agricultural azoles but differences elsewhere between the two paralogues may ensure selection depends on the DMI used on crops. Two imidazoles, imazalil and prochloraz, have been widely used since the early 1970s, yet unlike triazoles they have not been linked to resistance in patients. Evidence that DMIs are the origin, or increase the frequency, of azole resistance in human fungal pathogens is lacking. Limiting DMI use would have serious impacts on disease control in many crops, and remove key tools in anti-resistance strategies.


Aspergillus fumigatus; CYP51; DMI fungicides; aspergillosis; azoles; drug resistance; itraconazole; paralogue; sterol 14α-demethylase

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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