The mechanism of glyphosate resistance in horseweed was investigated. Eleven biotypes of putative sensitive (S) and resistant (R) horseweed were obtained from regions across the United States and examined for foliar retention, absorption, translocation, and metabolism of glyphosate. Initial studies used spray application of 14C-glyphosate to simulate field application. When S and R biotypes were compared in the absence of toxicity at a sublethal dose, we observed comparable retention and absorption but reduced root translocation in the R biotypes. S and R biotypes from Delaware were further examined at field use rates and results confirmed similar retention and absorption but reduced root translocation in the R biotypes. Application of 14C-glyphosate to a single leaf demonstrated reduced export out of the treated leaf and lower glyphosate import into other leaves, the roots, and the crown in R relative to S biotypes. Examination of the treated leaf by autoradiography showed that glyphosate loading into the apoplast and phloem was delayed and reduced in the R biotype. Our results consistently showed a strong correlation between impaired glyphosate translocation and resistance. Tissues from both S and R biotypes showed elevated levels of shikimate suggesting that 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS) remained sensitive to glyphosate. Analysis of tissue shikimate levels demonstrated reduced efficiency in EPSPS inhibition in the R biotypes. Our results suggest that resistance is likely due to altered cellular distribution that impaired phloem loading and plastidic import of glyphosate resulting in reduced overall translocation as well as inhibition of EPSPS.
Nomenclature: Glyphosate; horseweed, Conyza canadensis (L.) Cronq. ERICA.