Plant biotechnology journal

Safener responsiveness and multiple herbicide resistance in the weed black-grass (Alopecurus myosuroides).

PMID 19754839


Safeners enhance the selectivity of graminicidal herbicides such as fenoxaprop ethyl in cereals, by increasing their rates of detoxification in the crop. While studying the selectivity of fenoxaprop ethyl in wheat, we determined that the safeners mefenpyr diethyl and fenchlorazole ethyl also enhanced herbicide tolerance in the competing weed black-grass (Alopecurus myosuroides). Fenoxaprop ethyl was detoxified by conjugation with glutathione in both wheat and black-grass, with the resulting metabolites processed to the respective cysteine derivatives, which were then N-glycosylated. In black-grass, these detoxification pathways were only slightly enhanced by safeners, suggesting that metabolism alone was unlikely to account for increased herbicide tolerance. Instead, it was determined that safening was associated with an accumulation of glutathione and hydroxymethylglutathione and enzymes with antioxidant functions including phi and lambda glutathione transferases, active as glutathione peroxidases and thiol transferases respectively. These safener-induced changes closely mirrored those determined in two independent black-grass populations that had acquired multiple herbicide resistance (MHR) in the field. In addition to enhanced glutathione metabolism, both safener treatment and MHR resulted in elevated levels of flavonoids in the foliage of black-grass plants, notably flavone-C-glycosides and anthocyanins. Our results demonstrate that safening in a grass weed is associated with an inducible activation in antioxidant and secondary metabolism which mirrors the biochemical phenotype exhibited in plants that are resistant to multiple classes of herbicides.

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Fenoxaprop-ethyl, PESTANAL®, analytical standard