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Rapid Evolution of Herbicide Resistance by Low Herbicide Dosages

  • Sudheesh Manalil (a1) (a2), Roberto Busi (a3), Michael Renton (a3) and Stephen B. Powles (a3)


Herbicide rate cutting is an example of poor use of agrochemicals that can have potential adverse implications due to rapid herbicide resistance evolution. Recent laboratory-level studies have revealed that herbicides at lower-than-recommended rates can result in rapid herbicide resistance evolution in rigid ryegrass populations. However, crop-field-level studies have until now been lacking. In this study, we examined the impact of low rates of diclofop on the evolution of herbicide resistance in a herbicide-susceptible rigid ryegrass population grown either in a field wheat crop or in potted plants maintained in the field. Subsequent dose–response profiles indicated rapid evolution of diclofop resistance in the selected rigid ryegrass lines from both the crop-field and field pot studies. In addition, there was moderate level of resistance in the selected lines against other tested herbicides to which the population has never been exposed. This resistance evolution was possible because low rates of diclofop allowed substantial rigid ryegrass survivors due to the potential in this cross-pollinated species to accumulate all minor herbicide resistance traits present in the population. The practical lesson from this research is that herbicides should be used at the recommended rates that ensure high weed mortality to minimize the likelihood of minor herbicide resistance traits leading to rapid herbicide resistance evolution.


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