Journal Article

Biochemical Bases for a Widespread Tolerance of Cyanobacteria to the Phosphonate Herbicide Glyphosate

Giuseppe Forlani, Mauro Pavan, Magdalena Gramek, Paweł Kafarski and Jacek Lipok

in Plant and Cell Physiology

Published on behalf of Japanese Society of Plant Physiologists

Volume 49, issue 3, pages 443-456
Published in print March 2008 | ISSN: 0032-0781
Published online March 2008 | e-ISSN: 1471-9053 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/pcp/pcn021
Biochemical Bases for a Widespread Tolerance of Cyanobacteria to the Phosphonate Herbicide Glyphosate

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Possible non-target effects of the widely used, non-selective herbicide glyphosate were examined in six cyanobacterial strains, and the basis of their resistance was investigated. All cyanobacteria showed a remarkable tolerance to the herbicide up to millimolar levels. Two of them were found to possess an insensitive form of glyphosate target, the shikimate pathway enzyme 5-enol-pyruvyl-shikimate-3-phosphate synthase. Four strains were able to use the phosphonate as the only phosphorus source. Low uptake rates were measured only under phosphorus deprivation. Experimental evidence for glyphosate metabolism was also obtained in strains apparently unable to use the phosphonate. Results suggest that various mechanisms may concur in providing cyanobacterial strains with herbicide tolerance. The data also account for their widespread ability to metabolize the phosphonate. However, such a capability seems limited by low cell permeability to glyphosate, and is rapidly repressed when inorganic phosphate is available.

Keywords: Cyanobacteria; EPSP synthase; Glyphosate; Herbicide tolerance; Phosphonate/phosphate uptake; Target enzyme-based resistance; Xenobiotic metabolism

Journal Article.  8176 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biochemistry ; Molecular and Cell Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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