Weed species shifts in glyphosate-resistant crops



The adoption of glyphosate-based crop production systems has been one of the most important revolutions in the history of agriculture. Changes in weed communities owing to species that do not respond to current glyphosate-based management tactics are rapidly increasing. Clearly, glyphosate-resistant crops (GRCs) do not influence weeds any more than non-transgenic crops. For most crops, the trait itself is essentially benign in the environment. Rather, the weed control tactics imposed by growers create the ecological selection pressure that ultimately changes the weed communities. This is seen in the adoption of conservation tillage and weed management programs that focus on one herbicide mode of action and have hastened several important weed population shifts. Tillage (disturbance) is one of the primary factors that affect changes in weed communities. The intense selection pressure from herbicide use will result in the evolution of herbicide-resistant weed biotypes or shifts in the relative prominence of one weed species in the weed community. Changes in weed communities are inevitable and an intrinsic consequence of growing crops over time. The glyphosate-based weed management tactics used in GRCs impose the selection pressure that supports weed population shifts. Examples of weed population shifts in GRCs include common waterhemp [Amaranthus tuberculatus (Moq ex DC) JD Sauer], horseweed (Conyza canadensis L), giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida L) and other relatively new weed problems. Growers have handled these weed population shifts with varying success depending on the crop. Copyright © 2008 Society of Chemical Industry