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Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Discover Gene Controlling Multi-Herbicide Resistance

July 10, 2013

Scientists at the University of York and Durham have discovered a gene called AmGSTF1 that plays a key role in controlling multi-herbicide resistance (MHR) in black-grass and rye-grass. Black-grass and rye-grass are serious weed problems in cereal and oilseed rape rotations. An estimated 1.2 million hectares of land in the United Kingdom is now infested with black-grass. Scientists involved in the research showed that a gene producing the enzyme glutathione transferase (GST) switches on MHR.

When the gene was transferred to thale cress, the transgenic plants became resistant. "GSTs are known to detoxify herbicides directly, but we believe that our gene works as a master switch that activates a wide range of protective mechanisms," explains project leader Professor Rob Edwards from the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products at the University of York.

When sprayed with a GST-inhibiting chemical, the resistant plants became susceptible to weed killers, showing further the potential of GST inhibitors in improving the effectiveness of weed killers against resistant black-grass and rye-grass. Professor Edwards' team are also developing a genetic test for AmGSTF1 that could provide the first reliable diagnosis of MHR, an important step in deciding on the right weed control strategy.

For more details about this research, read the news release at: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/food-security/2013/130708-n-gene-discovery-aid-weed-control.aspx.