"Farmers can't imagine going back to 2,4-D or other auxin herbicides," Riechers said. "But herbicide resistance is bad enough that companies are willing to bring it back. That illustrates how severe this problem is."
In a recently published article in Weed Science, Riechers and his team of research colleagues suggest that tank-mixing auxinic herbicides with glyphosate may be the best short-term option available to farmers interested in broad-spectrum, postemergence weed control.
"Resistance has become a big problem," Riechers said. "In 1997, researchers predicted that glyphosate resistance would not be a big issue in Round-Up Ready crops. For the most part, they were right. But they underestimated a few weed species and resistance mechanisms."
Since the 1950s, 29 auxin-resistant weed species have been discovered worldwide. In comparison, 21 glyphosate-resistant weed species have been discovered since 1996 when Round-Up Ready soybeans were commercialized. And interestingly enough, two of the most problematic weeds in Round-Up Ready soybean and cotton – common waterhemp and Palmer amaranth – are not yet on the list of auxin-resistant weeds, Riechers said.
Ideally, chemical companies would come up with a new herbicide to fight these resistant weeds. But new herbicide development is expensive and time-consuming. Riechers said he does not know of any new compounds on the horizon.
"If we don't find completely novel and new herbicides, our next best bet is to mix glyphosate and another herbicide with relatively minor resistance problems," Riechers said. "Auxin resistance is not considered a huge problem in the United States, particularly in corn, soybean and cotton. It has only occurred in isolated incidences."
Why have the auxinic herbicides escaped the resistance problems of the more modern herbicides used today?
Riechers said there are three major reasons that help explain why resistance to auxin herbicides has not become a big problem yet. First, the auxin family of herbicides has a very complicated mode of action. In theory, a weed would have to develop a very complicated resistance method to overcome it. Riechers said the auxin herbicide family is very unusual because it has multiple target sites, which were only recently discovered.
"In addition, resistance to these compounds is rare because a plant that evolves resistance may have a fitness cost," he said. "The resistance mechanism that overcomes the herbicide could have a negative consequence to the plant in absence of the herbicide. Basically, for auxin herbicides there may be a 'penalty' to having resistance."
The third explanation is that auxin herbicides have rarely been relied on by themselves and are normally mixed with other herbicides. A good example is the frequent use of several auxinic herbicides in tank mixes for weed control in home lawncare and golf course applications.
Some farmers are concerned about going back to 2,4-D and other auxin herbicides because they are considered old compounds that tend to drift and move off-target to sensitive plants. Riechers said Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences have announced that they are working on new formulations to reduce drift, and agricultural engineers are exploring spray application technology to reduce the problems, too.
"This is a risk/reward decision," Riechers said. "If you have a huge resistance problem in your field and are concerned about losing yield, this may be your best solution for now. The alternative is to give up and do nothing. For some growers, this technology may be worth the risk because they have no other choices."
So the question remains. How long will it take for plants to form resistance to the combination of auxin herbicides and glyphosate?
"We are trying to predict the future, but all we can do at this point is speculate," Riechers said. "However, we can use the past to help us make wise choices for the future. We have resistance to almost all herbicide families now. Tank-mixing auxin herbicides with glyphosate may work for the short term, but I expect that auxin resistance will likely increase over time. Nature always finds a way."
Until the next novel herbicide comes out, Riechers said you only have to look back at what happened with glyphosate to see how important it is to be a good steward by using herbicides in a sustainable, beneficial way.
This article, "Evolution of Resistance to Auxinic Herbicides: Historical Perspectives, Mechanisms of Resistance, and Implications for Broadleaf Weed Management in Agronomic Crops," was published in the October-December 2011 issue of Weed Science. Authors include Dean Riechers of the University of Illinois, Kevin Kelley of AgraServ, William Johnson of Purdue University, and Christopher Hall and Mithila Jugulam of the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
For a list of herbicide-resistant weeds, visit www.weedscience.org.
Jennifer Shike | EurekAlert!
Climate change, population growth may lead to open ocean aquaculture
05.10.2017 | Oregon State University
New machine evaluates soybean at harvest for quality
04.10.2017 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research