Mechanisms of evolved herbicide resistance

Todd A. Gaines, Stephen O. Duke, Sarah Morran, Carlos A. G. Rigon, Patrick J. Tranel, Anita Kuepper, Franck E. Dayan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

315 Citations (Scopus)


The widely successful use of synthetic herbicides over the past 70 years has imposed strong and widespread selection pressure, leading to the evolution of herbicide resistance in hundreds of weed species. Both target-site resistance (TSR) and nontarget-site resistance (NTSR) mechanisms have evolved to most herbicide classes. TSR often involves mutations in genes encoding the protein targets of herbicides, affecting the binding of the herbicide either at or near catalytic domains or in regions affecting access to them. Most of these mutations are nonsynonymous SNPs, but polymorphisms in more than one codon or entire codon deletions have also evolved. Some herbicides bind multiple proteins, making the evolution of TSR mechanisms more difficult. Increased amounts of protein target, by increased gene expression or by gene duplication, are an important, albeit less common, TSR mechanism. NTSR mechanisms include reduced absorption or translocation and increased sequestration or metabolic degradation. The mechanisms that can contribute to NTSR are complex and often involve genes that are members of large gene families. For example, enzymes involved in herbicide metabolism?based resistances include cytochromes P450, GSHS-transferases, glucosyl and other transferases, aryl acylamidase, and others. Both TSR and NTSR mechanisms can combine at the individual level to produce higher resistance levels. The vast array of herbicide-resistance mechanisms for generalist (NTSR) and specialist (TSR and some NTSR) adaptations that have evolved over a few decades illustrate the evolutionary resilience of weed populations to extreme selection pressures. These evolutionary processes drive herbicide and herbicide-resistant crop development and resistance management strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10307-10330
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry (Online)
Issue number30
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes


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