New gene for atrazine resistance identified in waterhemp

Waterhemp has been locked in an arms race with farmers for decades. Nearly every time farmers attack the weed with a new herbicide, waterhemp becomes resistant to it, reducing or eliminating the efficacy of the chemical. Some waterhemp populations have evolved resistance to multiple herbicides, making them incredibly difficult to kill.

Adding to the challenge is the fact that waterhemp can evolve resistance in at least two ways. In target-site resistance, a gene mutation changes the protein that the herbicide is designed to attack. With an ill-fitting protein binding site, the herbicide becomes ineffective. The plus side of target-site resistance is that it is relatively easy to identify using standard lab procedures. Continue reading