Journal Article

Simulating the evolution of glyphosate resistance in grains farming in northern Australia

David F. Thornby and Steve R. Walker

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 104, issue 4, pages 747-756
Published in print September 2009 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online June 2009 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcp152
Simulating the evolution of glyphosate resistance in grains farming in northern Australia

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry

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Background and Aims

The evolution of resistance to herbicides is a substantial problem in contemporary agriculture. Solutions to this problem generally consist of the use of practices to control the resistant population once it evolves, and/or to institute preventative measures before populations become resistant. Herbicide resistance evolves in populations over years or decades, so predicting the effectiveness of preventative strategies in particular relies on computational modelling approaches. While models of herbicide resistance already exist, none deals with the complex regional variability in the northern Australian sub-tropical grains farming region. For this reason, a new computer model was developed.

Methods

The model consists of an age- and stage-structured population model of weeds, with an existing crop model used to simulate plant growth and competition, and extensions to the crop model added to simulate seed bank ecology and population genetics factors. Using awnless barnyard grass (Echinochloa colona) as a test case, the model was used to investigate the likely rate of evolution under conditions expected to produce high selection pressure.

Key Results

Simulating continuous summer fallows with glyphosate used as the only means of weed control resulted in predicted resistant weed populations after approx. 15 years. Validation of the model against the paddock history for the first real-world glyphosate-resistant awnless barnyard grass population shows that the model predicted resistance evolution to within a few years of the real situation.

Conclusions

This validation work shows that empirical validation of herbicide resistance models is problematic. However, the model simulates the complexities of sub-tropical grains farming in Australia well, and can be used to investigate, generate and improve glyphosate resistance prevention strategies.

Keywords: Crop weeds; modelling; glyphosate; herbicide resistance; awnless barnyard grass; Echinochloa colona; population dynamics

Journal Article.  7765 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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