Kansas State researchers discover how plants develop glyphosate resistance quickly

Kansas State University researchers have discovered how weeds develop resistance to the popular herbicide glyphosate, a finding that could have broad future implications in agriculture and many other industries.

Their work is detailed in an article that appears in the March 12 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, known as PNAS and considered to be one of the most-cited journals for scientific research in the world. According to its website, PNAS receives more than 21 million hits per month.

“Herbicide resistance in weeds has been a huge problem, not only in Kansas and the U.S. but many parts of the world,” said Mithila Jugulam, a K-State weed scientist and co-author of the PNAS article.

“What we found that was new was how these weeds have evolved resistance to glyphosate in such a short time. If you look at the evolution of glyphosate resistance in Palmer amaranth, based on our research, it appears to have occurred very rapidly.”

Palmer amaranth and common waterhemp are the two troublesome pigweeds in Kansas agricultural fields, as well as other parts of the United States. Glyphosate – the key ingredient in the popular Roundup brand – is the herbicide that is widely used for controlling many weeds. But Jugulam notes that glyphosate resistance is becoming more prevalent in many states.

“We found that glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth plants carry the glyphosate target gene in hundreds of copies,” Jugulam said. “Therefore, even if you applied an amount much higher than the recommended dose of glyphosate, the plants would not be killed.”

Read the rest of the story in Southwest Farm Press.

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