Phenylamide management strategy

Downy mildew of onion
The phenylamide fungicide metalaxyl-M
is used to control downy mildew of onion
caused by Peronospora destructor

R.M. Beresford
Plant & Food Research, Private Bag 92169, Auckland 1142, New Zealand

(Revised November 2004)

These guidelines are designed to manage or prevent the problem of resistance to phenylamide (previously known as acylalanine) fungicides in New Zealand. They have been developed from previously published information (Elliot et al. 1988, Moore et al. 1999) in consultation with the New Zealand agricultural chemical industry (Agcarm Inc.) and are based on recommendations from the Fungicide Resistance Action Committee (FRAC) in Europe.

Product perspective

Phenylamide fungicides are highly active against oomycete plant pathogens, e.g. Phytophthora and Pythium diseases and downy mildews (Table 1). They have been in commercial use since 1978. Phenylamides are rapidly absorbed into plant tissue and are translocated acropetally within the plant. They have a site-specific mode of action, inhibiting rRNA synthesis in the target fungi. They show no cross-resistance with other fungicide groups, but there is crossresistance among all the active ingredients within the phenylamide group. In the mid 1990s it was discovered that one of the two isomer constituents of metalaxyl was more active than the other and the active one was introduced commercially as metalaxyl-M (mefenoxam) in 1996 (Table 2).

Current status of phenylamide resistance in New Zealand

Resistance has been recorded in New Zealand to metalaxyl (including metalaxyl-M) in Phytophthora infestans in potatoes (Hartill et al. 1983) and in Peronospora viciae in peas (Falloon et al. 2000). Overseas, resistance has also been recorded in Bremia lactucae, Peronospora destructor, Peronospora parasitica, Plasmopara viticola, Phytophthora cactorum and Pseudoperonospora cubensi. It is important to heed resistance management guidelines in New Zealand to prevent resistance developing in any of these pathogens here. Adherence to resistance management guidelines in the UK and Europe for Phytophthora infestans and Plasmopara viticola appears to have limited the build-up of resistant strains, allowing continued effective use of these fungicides in potatoes and grapes. Resistant strains appear to survive less well than sensitive strains in the absence of phenylamide use. The mode of resistance to phenylamides may involve one or two major genes and potentially several minor genes. The site of mutation involved in resistance has not yet been mapped.

Table 1: Pathogens and crops targeted by phenylamide fungicides in New Zealand.
Peronospora destructor Downy mildew Onions
Peronospora parasitica Downy mildew Brassicas
Peronospora sparsa Downy mildew (dry berry) Brambles
Peronospora viciae1 Downy mildew Peas
Phytophthora cinnamomi Root rot Avocados
Phytophthora infestans1 Late blight Potatoes, tomatoes
Phytophthora megasperma Spear rot, crown rot Asparagus
Plasmopara viticola Downy mildew Grapes
Pseudoperonospora cubensis Downy mildew Cucurbits
Pythium spp. and Phytophthora spp. Damping off, seedling diseases, root rots Ornamentals, seedlings, tree nurseries, lucerne

1Pathogens with resistant strains identified in New Zealand.

Table 2: Phenylamides marketed in New Zealand.
Common nameTrade name
metalaxyl in Max Cl with chlorothalonil
metalaxyl-M (mefenoxam) Apron XL (seed treatment)
Ridomil Gold 2.5G, Ridomil Gold EC
in Ridomil Gold MZ WG with mancozeb
in Wakil XL with fludioxonil and cymoxanil (seed treatment)

General guidelines for phenylamide fungicides

Table 3: Phenylamide use guidelines for specific crops.
Asparagus Phytophthora spear rot One application of granule formulation before spear emergence in spring, or a maximum of two soil drench applications in spring, made on the same day before and after cutting.
Avocados Phytophthora root rot One spring application of granule formulation.
Boysenberries, brambles Dry berry (downy mildew) Maximum of three foliar applications per season.

Where crops are grown sequentially, no more than three phenylamide treatments within a 12 month period.

Always ensure phenylamide active ingredients are mixed with an effective dose of a fungicide from a different cross-resistance group.
Potatoes, tomatoes Late blight
Cucurbits, grapes, onions Downy mildew
Seed treatment for various crops Pea downy mildew, various damping off diseases For seed treatment, phenylamide active ingredients should be mixed with an effective dose of a fungicide from a different cross-resistance group.

Where a phenylamide seed treatment has been used, foliar treatments with phenylamide-containing products should be avoided.
Soil drench for various crops Various damping off and root rot diseases Phenylamides may be used alone as a soil drench in a single application, preferably in spring.

Implementation recommendations

Product labels for products that contain phenylamides should include an appropriate statement about resistance management.


Elliot GS, Moore MS, Wearing CH 1988. The New Zealand Committee on Pesticide Resistance 1988 summary. Proceedings of the 41st Weed and Pest Control Conference: 288-292.

Falloon RE, Follas GB, Butler RC, Goulden DS 2000. Resistance in Peronospora viciae to phenylamide fungicides: reduced efficacy of seed treatments of pea (Pisum sativum) and assessment of alternatives. Crop Protection 19: 313-325.

Hartill WFT, Tompkins GR, Kleinsman PJ 1983. Development in New Zealand of resistance to dicarboximide fungicides in Botrytis cinerea, and to acylalanines in Phytophthora infestans, and to guazatine in Penicillium italicum. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research 26: 261-269.

Moore M, Hartill B, Patterson T 1996. Phenylamide resistance management strategy. In: Bourdôt GW, Suckling DM ed. Pesticide resistance: prevention and management. New Zealand Plant Protection Society, Rotorua, New Zealand. Pp. 151.