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Thursday, 20 February 2014 00:00

A study documents the resistance of weeds to glyphosate

It is the first study at international level which describes the resistance mechanisms to herbicide glyphosate in Conyza sumatrensis, which is a common broadleaf weed especially harmful in groves like citrus, vineyards and olive trees

Researchers of the Departments of Vegetable Genetic Improvement of the Sustainable Agriculture Institute and Agricultural Chemistry and Edaphology Department of the University of Cordoba (in the Agrifood Campus of International Excellence ceiA3), have developed the first international study that describes the resistance mechanisms of some weeds to glyphosate.This herbicide is widely employed to eliminate weeds in woody crops. Specifically, the study focused in the description of the defence mechanisms of the Conyza sumatrensis, one of the more damaging and common threat in the agricultural sector in Western Andalusia and the Valencian Region.

In the article ‘First evidence for a target site mutation in the EPSPS2 gene in glyphosate-resistant Sumatran fleabane from citrus orchards’, published in the Agronomy for Sustainable Development Magazine, the researchers describes how the main resistance factors of the Conyza sumatrensis are based on a genetic mutation. "We identified and analized the behavior of the Conyza sumatrensis for the first time, a species that is the responsible of the high ineffectiveness of the glyphosate in some wood crops", explains Rafael de Prado, researcher at the University of Cordoba, to Fundación descubre.

The tests were developed in citric crops in Huelva. “We explored the field and we collected seeds from a population of Conyza sumatrensis that, previously, had been treated with glyphosate for ten years. Subsequently, we selected a second sample of seeds of this weeds from a greenhouse of the same region. These seeds were in controlled conditions of laboratory for one year", says the researcher, and adds: "Finally, we compared both groups of seeds and carried out Physiological, biochemical, and molecular tests, needed to determine any differences and identify the resistance mechanisms to glyphosate".


In spite of the effectiveness of herbicides for the control of weeds, this study moves, according to its authors, one step further to emphasise the importance of diversifying control strategies in this kind of broadleaf weeds. "The inadequate employment of the herbicides in citrus, vineyards, and olive trees, causes increasingly resistant new species appear. Therefore, the employment of new alternatives will contribute to not exclusively depending on these chemical tools, and will assure a higher ecosystem biodiversity", explained De Prado.

This study allowed the expert team to open new research lines to analyze the behaviour of these defence mechanisms in relation to other kinds of herbicides in real conditions. "In addition to carrying out this laboratory study in an actual field, we are going to develop other experiments with other kinds of herbicides and apply alternative methods to determine the best control tools to avoid the development of resistant biotypes", says De Prado.

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