Professor Powles’ team are collaborating with researchers at the German chemical company Bayer CropScience to identify the genes that enable Lolium (ryegrass) to resist many herbicides through metabolic capacity to degrade herbicides. Employing state of the art genomics platforms the specific genes responsible for resistance are being identified and ways explored to overcome this resistance.
Using the analogy of a ball, a bat and a baseball glove, Powles explains how the herbicides work and how they might be resisted by the plant. The ball is the herbicide and the glove is the target enzyme in the plant into which it fits. If the plant develops resistance over generations, the enzyme is altered due to target-site gene mutations and the ball no longer is a good fit. Another mechanism of resistance can also occur where the plant uses a ‘bat’ to deflect the ball, this is more commonly known as non-target site resistance. Powles’ team are working to identify which mechanisms of resistance are developing in crop weeds.
- Bayer CropScience GmbH