Resistant Weeds

Behrens et al., 2007

Mark Behrens, Nedim Mutlu, Sarbani Chakraborty, Razvan Dumitru, Wen Zhi Jiang, “Dicamba Resistance: Enlarging and Preserving Biotechnology-Based Weed Management Strategies,” Science, 316, 2007, DOI: 10.1126/science.1141596.


Abstract: The advent of biotechnology-derived, herbicide-resistant crops has revolutionized farming practices in many countries. Facile, highly effective, environmentally sound, and profitable weed control methods have been rapidly adopted by crop producers who value the benefits associated with biotechnology-derived weed management traits. But a rapid rise in the populations of several troublesome weeds that are tolerant or resistant to herbicides currently used in conjunction with herbicide-resistant crops may signify that the useful lifetime of these economically important weed management traits will be cut short. We describe the development of soybean and other broadleaf plant species resistant to dicamba, a widely used, inexpensive, and environmentally safe herbicide. The dicamba resistance technology will augment current herbicide resistance technologies and extend their effective lifetime. Attributes of both nuclear- and chloroplast-encoded dicamba resistance genes that affect the potency and expected durability of the herbicide resistance trait are  examined.  FULL TEXT

Davis and Frisvold, 2017

Adam S. Davis, George B. Frisvold, “Are herbicides a once in a century method of weed control?,” Pest Management Science, 2017, 73:11, DOI: 10.1002/ps.443.


The efficacy of any pesticide is an exhaustible resource that can be depleted over time. For decades, the dominant paradigm – that weed mobility is low relative to insect pests and pathogens, that there is an ample stream of new weed control technologies in the commercial pipeline, and that technology suppliers have sufficient economic incentives and market power to delay resistance – supported a laissez faire approach to herbicide resistance management. Earlier market data bolstered the belief that private incentives and voluntary actions were sufficient to manage resistance. Yet, there has been a steady growth in resistant weeds, while no new commercial herbicide modes of action (MOAs) have been discovered in 30 years. Industry has introduced new herbicide tolerant crops to increase the applicability of older MOAs. Yet, many weed species are already resistant to these compounds. Recent trends suggest a paradigm shift whereby herbicide resistance may impose greater costs to farmers, the environment, and taxpayers than earlier believed. In developed countries, herbicides have been the dominant method of weed control for half a century. Over the next half-century, will widespread resistance to multiple MOAs render herbicides obsolete for many major cropping systems? We suggest it would be prudent to consider the implications of such a low-probability, but high-cost development.  FULL TEXT

Duke, 2015

Stephen O Duke, “Perspectives on transgenic, herbicide‐resistant crops in the United States almost 20 years after introduction,” Pest Management Science, 2015, 71:5, DOI: 10.1002/ps.3863.


Herbicide-resistant crops have had profound impacts on weed management. Most of the impact has been by glyphosate-resistant maize, cotton, soybean, and canola. Significant economic savings, yield increases, and more efficacious and simplified weed management resulted in widespread adoption of the technology. Initially, glyphosate-resistant crops enabled significantly reduced tillage and reduced the environmental impact of weed management. Continuous use of glyphosate with glyphosate-resistant crops over broad areas facilitated the evolution of glyphosate-resistant weeds, which have resulted in increases in the use of tillage and other herbicides with glyphosate, reducing some of the initial environmental benefits of glyphosate-resistant crops. Transgenic crops with resistance to auxinic herbicides, as well as to herbicides that inhibit acetolactate synthase, acetyl-CoA carboxylase, and hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase, stacked with glyphosate and/or glufosinate resistance, will become available in the next few years. These technologies will provide additional weed management options for farmers, but will not have all of the positive impacts (reduced cost, simplified weed management, lowered environmental impact, and reduced tillage) that glyphosate-resistant crops had initially. In the more distant future, other herbicide-resistant crops (including non-transgenic ones), herbicides with new modes of action, and technologies that are currently in their infancy (e.g., bioherbicides, sprayable herbicidal RNAi, and/or robotic weeding) may impact the role of transgenic, herbicide-resistant crops in weed management.

Evans et al., 2015

Jeffrey A Evans, Patrick J Tranel, Aaron G Hager, Brian Schutte, Chenxi Wu,  Laura A Chatham, and Adam S Davis,  “Managing the evolution of herbicide resistance,” 2015, Pest Management Science, 72, DOI 10.1002/ps.4009.


BACKGROUND: Understanding and managing the evolutionary responses of pests and pathogens to control efforts is essential to human health and survival. Herbicide-resistant (HR) weeds undermine agricultural sustainability, productivity and profitability, yet the epidemiology of resistance evolution – particularly at landscape scales – is poorly understood. We studied glyphosate resistance in a major agricultural weed, Amaranthus tuberculatus (common waterhemp), using landscape, weed and management data from 105 central Illinois grain farms, including over 500 site-years of herbicide application records.

RESULTS: Glyphosate-resistant (GR) A. tuberculatus occurrence was greatest in fields with frequent glyphosate applications, high annual rates of herbicide mechanism of action (MOA) turnover and few MOAs/field/year. Combining herbicide MOAs at the time of application by herbicide mixing reduced the likelihood of GR A. tuberculatus.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings illustrate the importance of examining large-scale evolutionary processes at relevant spatial scales. Although measures such as herbicide mixing may delay GR or other HR weed traits, they are unlikely to prevent them. Long-term weed management will require truly diversified management practices that minimize selection for herbicide resistance traits.  FULL TEXT

Gaines et al., 2009

Todd A. Gaines, Wenli Zhang, Dafu Wang, Bekir Bukun, Stephen T. Chisholm, Dale L. Shaner, Scott J. Nissen, William L. Patzoldt , Patrick J. Tranel , A. Stanley Culpepper , Timothy L. Grey , Theodore M. Webster , William K. Vencill, R. Douglas Sammons, Jiming Jiang, Christopher Prestoni, Jan E. Leacha, and Philip Westraa, “Gene amplification confers glyphosate resistance in Amaranthus palmeri,” PNAS, 2009,  107:3, DOI: 10.1073/PNAS/PNAS.0906649107.


The herbicide glyphosate became widely used in the United States and other parts of the world after the commercialization of glyphosate-resistant crops. These crops have constitutive overexpression of a glyphosate-insensitive form of the herbicide target site gene, 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS). Increased use of glyphosate over multiple years imposes selective genetic pressure on weed populations. We investigated recently discovered glyphosate-resistant Amaranthus palmeri populations from Georgia, in comparison with normally sensitive populations. EPSPS enzyme activity from resistant and susceptible plants was equally inhibited by glyphosate, which led us to use quantitative PCR to measure relative copy numbers of the EPSPS gene. Genomes of resistant plants contained from 5-fold to more than 160-fold more copies of the EPSPS gene than did genomes of susceptible plants. Quantitative RT-PCR on cDNA revealed that EPSPS expression was positively correlated with genomic EPSPS relative copy number. Immunoblot analyses showed that increased EPSPS protein level also correlated with EPSPS genomic copy number. EPSPS gene amplification was heritable, correlated with resistance in pseudo-F2 populations, and is proposed to be the molecular basis of glyphosate resistance. FISH revealed that EPSPS genes were present on every chromosome and, therefore, gene amplification was likely not caused by unequal chromosome crossing over. This occurrence of gene amplification as an herbicide resistance mechanism in a naturally occurring weed population is particularly significant because it could threaten the sustainable use of glyphosate-resistant crop technology.  FULL TEXT

Gould et al., 2018

Fred Gould, Zachary S. Brown, Jennifer Kuzma, “Wicked evolution: Can we address the sociobiological dilemma of pesticide resistance?,” Science, May 18, 2018, 360: 6390, DOI: 10.1126/science.aar3780.


Resistance to insecticides and herbicides has cost billions of U.S. dollars in the agricultural sector and could result in millions of lives lost to insect-vectored diseases. We mostly continue to use pesticides as if resistance is a temporary issue that will be addressed by commercialization of new pesticides with novel modes of action. However, current evidence suggests that insect and weed evolution may outstrip our ability to replace outmoded chemicals and other control mechanisms. To avoid this outcome, we must address the mix of ecological, genetic, economic, and sociopolitical factors that prevent implementation of sustainable pest management practices. We offer an ambitious proposition.  FULL TEXT

Harker et al., 2012

K. Neil Harker, John T. O’Donovan, Robert E. Blackshaw, Hugh J. Beckie, C. Mallory-Smith, and Bruce D. Maxwell, “Our View,” Weed Science, 2012, 60, DOI: 10.1614/WS-D-11-00177.1.

Perhaps the incidence and impact of glyphosate-resistant weed species are now great enough that real solutions to glyphosate resistance can be discussed without much backlash. It is clear to most weed scientists who are involved in herbicide research, and even those who are not, that the best way to reduce selection pressure for herbicide resistance is to minimize herbicide use. However, the ‘‘solutions’’ that have emerged in most recent meetings on herbicide resistance have usually involved more herbicide use—herbicide rotation, tank-mixtures, PRE- followed by POST-herbicides, ‘‘right-rates,’’ etc. To an unbiased observer, it would appear that many weed emperors are wearing no clothes. Are we as a weed science discipline choosing to ignore true integrated solutions to the herbicide resistance problem? FULL TEXT

Johnson et. al, 2009

William G. Johnson, Vince M. Davis, Greg R. Kruger, Stephen C. Weller, “Influence of glyphosate-resistant cropping systems on weed species shifts and glyphosate-resistant weed populations,” European Journal of Agonomy, 2009, 31, 162-172, DOI: 10.1016/j.eja.2009.03.008.


Glyphosate-resistant (GR) crops have facilitated increases in conservation tillage production practices and simplified weed control in GR corn, soybean, canola and cotton. Increased reliance on glyphosate, many times as the only active ingredient used, has resulted in weed species shifts and the evolution of weed populations resistant to glyphosate. However, weed shifts and the evolution of herbicide resistance are not new in regard to glyphosate use. Similar effects have been documented to many other historically important weed control advancements for agricultural crop production. GR crop technology was developed to utilize glyphosate for postemergence weed control and industry scientists suggested that there was little fear of weed shifts and resistance evolution due to the broad spectrum of weeds controlled by glyphosate. However, over the last decade, the most problematic weeds in agronomic cropping systems have shifted away from perennial grass and perennial broadleaf weeds to primarily annual broadleaf weeds. The evolution of several GR annual broadleaf weeds in GR cropping systems has been documented, and glyphosate resistance mechanisms in weeds are currently poorly understood.  FULL TEXT

Kremer, 2014

Robert J. Kremer, “Environmental Implications of Herbicide Resistance: Soil Biology and Ecology,” Weed Science, 2014, 62.


Soil microbial community structure and activity are linked to plant communities. Weeds may alter their soil environment, selecting for specific rhizosphere microbial communities. Rhizosphere modification occurs for many crop and horticultural plants. However, impacts of weeds in agroecosystems on soil biology and ecology have received less attention because effective weed management practices were developed to minimize their impacts on crop production. The recent development of herbicide resistance (HR) in several economically important weeds leading to widespread infestations in crop fields treated with a single herbicide has prompted a re-evaluation of the effects of weed growth on soil biology and ecology. The objective of this article is to review the potential impacts of herbicide-resistant weeds on soil biological and ecological properties based on reports for crops, weeds, and invasive plants. Persistent weed infestations likely establish extensive root systems and release various plant metabolites through root exudation. Many exudates are selective for specific soil microbial groups mediating biochemical and nutrient acquisition processes. Exudates may stimulate development of microbial groups beneficial to weed but detrimental to crop growth or beneficial to both. Changes in symbiotic and associative microbial interactions occur, especially for arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) that are important in plant uptake of nutrients and water, and protecting from phytopathogens. Mechanisms used by weeds to disrupt symbioses in crops are not clearly described. Many herbicide-resistant weeds including Amaranthus and Chenopodium do not support AMF symbioses, potentially reducing AMF propagule density and establishment with crop plants. Herbicides applied to control HR weeds may compound effects of weeds on soil microorganisms. Systemic herbicides released through weed roots may select microbial groups that mediate detrimental processes such as nutrient immobilization or serve as opportunistic pathogens. Understanding complex interactions of weeds with soil microorganisms under extensive infestations is important in developing effective management of herbicide-resistant weeds. FULL TEXT

Liebman and Davis, 2009

Matt Liebman and Adam Davis, “Managing Weeds in Organic Farming Systems: An Ecological Approach,” In Organic Farming: The Ecological System, Ed: Charles Francis, 2009.


In this chapter, we describe major components of the weed management tool kit for organic farming, highlighting areas in which important advances have been made in the last decade. We then argue that instead of approaching the development of multitactic weed management strategies as a purely empirical, trial-and-error activity, the choice and deployment of weed management tactics should instead be informed by insights from ecological theory… Finally, we emphasize the need for ongoing dialog between empiricists and theoreticians and between scientists and farmers, so as to better direct scarce research resources and management time to where they are likely to be most beneficial. Multitactic weed management strategies informed by theory should be useful not just to organic farmers but also to conventional farmers who seek to reduce their reliance on herbicides due to concerns over herbicide resistance in weeds, rising production costs, and environmental and human health risks associated with herbicide exposure. FULL TEXT