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2 bacterial enzymes confer resistanceto common herbicide, say MU researchers
Date:1/21/2011

COLUMBIA, Mo. In an article in the Nov. 23 issue of the journal The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, researchers with Dow AgroSciences and the University of Missouri report on two bacterial enzymes that, when transformed into corn and soybeans, provide robust resistance to the herbicide 2,4-D. The discovery may soon provide Missouri corn and soybean growers a solution to the growing problem of herbicide-resistant weeds.

The spread of herbicide resistance has become an increasing concern for growers because undesired plants, such as Palmer amaranth and tall waterhemp in Missouri, are becoming tolerant to the broad-spectrum herbicide glyphosate, better known as Roundup.

Glyphosate is commonly used for controlling weeds in fields of Roundup Ready corn and soybean hybrids.

An herbicide commonly used to control lawn dandelions, 2,4-D, may be a new option on the horizon for growers who urgently need an alternative to glyphosate, said Zhanyuan Zhang, research associate professor of plant sciences at the University of Missouri. Zhang, director of MU's Plant Transformation Core facility, teamed up with research scientists at Dow AgroSciences, LLC, to engineer soybean plants resistant to 2,4-D.

Using a bioinformatic approach to mine a genetic database, the researchers pinpointed two bacterial enzymes - AAD-1 and AAD-12 - that break down 2,4-D. These enzymes were similar to a third bacterial enzyme that confers resistance to 2,4-D in transgenic cotton. When the new enzymes were inserted into the genome of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, the resulting plants showed little to no visible signs of damage when treated with 2,4-D. Plants with only the AAD-12 enzyme also survived applications of two other broadleaf herbicides, triclopyr and fluroxypr.

The herbicide protection of these enzymes was subsequently tested in corn and soybeans. Using robust transformation methods, the corn plant was engineere
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Contact: Melody Kroll
KrollMM@missouri.edu
573-884-4144
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

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