Aspergillus is a common fungus found in soil and other organic matters and causes diseases affecting millions of people. The only oral antifungal agents (triazoles) for human use are similar in structure to certain fungicides. The use of certain compounds in agriculture, notably difenoconazole, propiconazole, epoxiconazole, bromuconazole and tebuconazol are likely to lead to fungicide resistance, yet are routinely used in agriculture.
Researchers have recently demonstrated a link between spraying fungicides on crops and increased fungicide resistance by Aspergillus.
In a three-year study, researchers from The University of Manchester and Radboud University, in the Netherlands, evaluated resistance profiles in 230 fungal samples, collected from rural areas in West Yorkshire which were treated with fungicides, to 290 air and soil samples from inner city sites across Greater Manchester.
Aspergillus resistance was detected in West Yorkshire which has a high rate of agricultural fungicide use.
Dr Michael Bromley, Lecturer at The University of Manchester and study leader commented: “Given the frequent finding of resistance across northern Europe, it is not a surprise to see resistance in the UK. However, the clear association with triazole fungicide usage is very worrisome, as some unlucky people at risk will breathe in untreatable Aspergillus, with potentially dire consequences.”
Bromley MJ, et al. Occurrence of azole-resistant species of Aspergillus in the UK environment in the Journal of Global Antimicrobial Resistance (2014)