Evolving understanding of the evolution of herbicide resistance



A greater number of, and more varied, modes of resistance have evolved in weeds than in other pests because the usage of herbicides is far more extensive than the usage of other pesticides, and because weed seed output is so great. The discovery and development of selective herbicides are more problematic than those of insecticides and fungicides, as these must only differentiate between plant and insect or pathogen. Herbicides are typically selective between plants, meaning that before deployment there are already some crops possessing natural herbicide resistance that weeds could evolve. The concepts of the evolution of resistance and the mechanisms of delaying resistance have evolved as nature has continually evolved new types of resistance. Major gene target-site mutations were the first types to evolve, with initial consideration devoted mainly to them, but slowly ‘creeping’ resistance, gradually accruing increasing levels of resistance, has become a major force owing to an incremental accumulation of genetic changes in weed populations. Weeds have evolved mechanisms unknown even in antibiotic as well as other drug and pesticide resistances. It is even possible that cases of epigenetic ‘remembered’ resistances may have appeared. Copyright © 2009 Society of Chemical Industry