Milestone Reached in Genetic Research

Scientists have reached a milestone in the fight on herbicide resistant weeds. Genome research on Water Hemp, Smooth Pigweed, Palmer Amaranth are now published.

The University of Illinois tells Brownfield Ag News that the information will provide a better understanding of how the weeds resist damage, which will aid companies in product development.

Pat Tranel with the University of Illinois tells Brownfield this information provides a better understanding of how the weeds evade damage from herbicides.

“We have a good road map now of these species’ genomes which we can use to understand how they’re evolving with non-target site resistance which is increasingly becoming a problem for producers trying to manage these weeds.”

Tranel says they now have a catalog of all the different genes that could potentially metabolize a herbicide.

“Companies can look at that and say okay, if we want to come up with a new herbicide that we don’t want waterhemp to be able to metabolize, this is the catalog of tools that plant has at its disposal. So, now maybe we can design a herbicide that this plant will be less likely to metabolize.”

He says the genome information provides several other approaches for companies and researchers to develop more sophisticated herbicide designs.

The genome research was a collaborative effort between the University of Illinois, BASF and the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Germany and is published in Genome Biology and Evolution.