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Genetic assays to identify herbicide-resistant plants are a promising tool to reduce herbicide failures. However, the genetic basis of herbicide resistance is frequently unknown. In clonal weed species, DNA fingerprinting could be a useful tool to identify known resistant versus susceptible genets (clones) that occur in multiple locations, without an immediate need for understanding the genetic mutation(s) conferring resistance. Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum L.) and hybrids with native northern watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum × Myriophyllum sibiricum Kom.) are mostly clonal invasive aquatic plants, and the same clones can be found in multiple waterbodies. Previously, a clone was confirmed as resistant to the commonly used herbicide fluridone, and a recent genetic survey in Michigan identified this genotype (MG-237) in at least seven other lakes. We hypothesized that MG-237 collected from different lakes would also exhibit fluridone resistance. However, MG-237 may have accumulated resistance mutations at different times during its spread across Michigan, resulting in fluridone-resistant and fluridone-susceptible MG-237 clones distributed in different lakes. We used a herbicide assay to test the response of several accessions, including MG-237 accessions from multiple lakes, to the Michigan operational rate of 6 µg L−1 fluridone. We found that all accessions of MG-237 exhibited resistance to 6 µg L−1 fluridone. A second genotype (MG-377) was also resistant to 6 µg L−1 fluridone. The rest of the accessions were found to be significantly injured by 6 µg L−1 fluridone. Our results suggest that 6 µg L−1 fluridone would not effectively control waterbodies dominated by MG-237 or MG-377, whereas waterbodies dominated by the other genotypes in our study would likely be controlled. Although more studies are needed to identify the variation in sensitivity of the accessions tested here and the genetic basis of fluridone resistance in Myriophyllum, our results suggest that multilocus genotype data may be an effective tool to identify and track herbicide-resistant genotypes of Myriophyllum in the short term.
Population genetic studies of within- and among-population genetic variability are still lacking for managed submerged aquatic plant species, and such studies could provide important information for managers. For example, the extent of within-population genetic variation may influence the potential for managed populations to locally adapt to environmental conditions and control tactics. Similarly, among-population variation may influence whether specific control tactics work equally effectively in different locations. In the case of invasive Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum L.), including interspecific hybrids with native northern watermilfoil (Myriophyllum sibiricum Kom.), managers recognize that there is genetic variation for growth and herbicide response. However, it is unclear how much overall genetic variation there is, and how it is structured within and among populations. Here, we studied patterns of within- and among-lake genetic variation in 41 lakes in Michigan and 62 lakes in Minnesota using microsatellite markers. We found that within-lake genetic diversity was generally low, and among-lake genetic diversity was relatively high. However, some lakes were genetically diverse, and some genotypes were shared across multiple lakes. For genetically diverse lakes, managers should explicitly recognize the potential for genotypes to differ in control response and should account for this in monitoring and efficacy evaluation and using pretreatment herbicide screens to predict efficacy. Similarly, managers should consider differences in genetic composition among lakes as a source of variation in the growth and herbicide response of lakes with similar control tactics. Finally, laboratory or field information on control efficacy from one lake may be applied to other lakes where genotypes are shared among lakes.
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