Crop Tech Corner

Weed Resistance Blowing in the Wind

Emily Unglesbee
By  Emily Unglesbee , DTN Staff Reporter
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Glyphosate-resistant waterhemp is very mobile -- thanks to its pollen spores, according to a new Nebraska study. (DTN photo by Nick Scalise)

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) -- This bi-monthly column condenses the latest news in the field of crop technology, research and products.

GLYPHOSATE-RESISTANT WATERHEMP BLOWING IN THE WIND

You can blame pollen for more than just springtime sniffles. Nebraska scientists have determined that a specific gene is responsible for much of the glyphosate-resistant waterhemp -- and pollen is to blame for its rapid spread to 1.5 million corn and soybean acres in the state (as of 2016).

University of Nebraska agronomist Amit Jhala and his postdoctoral researcher Debalin Sarangi dug into the genetic origins of glyphosate-resistant waterhemp in a new study, according to a university press release. The researchers found that a single gene is amplified in resistant waterhemp plants and that amplification is inheritable and spread via pollen.

Naturally, the closer a resistant waterhemp plant is to a non-resistant plant, the higher the chances of the resistant gene spreading. Jhala and Sarangi found that non-resistant waterhemp plants within 4 inches of a resistant plant had a 38% to 54% chance of receiving pollen with the resistant trait. But the waterhemp pollen proved a decent long-distance traveler, as well. Even non-resistant plants located approximately half of a football field length away still had a 5% to 9% chance of getting the gene.

The researchers hope this study will inform resistant weed management practices in the future, as well as risk assessments of commercial crops. See the university press release here: http://bit.ly/… and the study here: http://go.nature.com/….

SOME (MIGHT) LIKE IT HOT

Much of the research on plants' future under climate change tends toward the gloomy. But a new Purdue study suggests that plants might be tougher than we think.

Nick Smith, a Purdue professor of forestry and natural resources, worked with a postdoctoral fellow to measure how plants would deal with carbon uptake in a warmer climate. They observed how 22 different plant species adapted in a range of temperatures from 59 degrees to 95 degrees over seven days. Then the researchers turned up the heat. For a few minutes at a time, the plants were blasted with temperatures as high as 122 degrees. The findings were surprisingly positive. The plants that had acclimated to higher temperatures in the initial week were able to increase their carbon uptake for longer before dropping off compared to their cool weather colleagues.

Although other factors will be at play in a warmer world, such as water availability, the study has valuable insights for climate change models, the researchers concluded. "In general, across all plant types ... plants generally acclimated in a way that would suggest that as plants adjust to warmer temperatures, they increase their capacity to take up carbon from the atmosphere," Smith said in a university press release. "Our study suggests that...we shouldn't expect a decrease in photosynthesis or uptake of carbon based on temperature alone."

See the press release here: http://bit.ly/….

Emily Unglesbee can be reached at emily.unglesbee@dtn.com

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Emily Unglesbee