Hydrilla is one of the most serious aquatic weed problems in the United States, and fluridone is the only U.S. Environment Protection Agency (USEPA)–approved herbicide that provides relatively long-term systemic control. Recently, hydrilla biotypes with varying levels of fluridone resistance have been documented in Florida. One susceptible and five fluridone-resistant biotypes of hydrilla varying in resistance levels were maintained in 950-L tanks under ambient sunlight and day-length conditions from September 2004 to September 2005 in absence of fluridone. Because fluridone is an inhibitor of the enzyme phytoene desaturase (PDS), the gene for PDS (pds) was cloned from fluridone-susceptible and -resistant hydrilla biotypes. Somatic mutations in amino acid 304 of hydrilla PDS are known to confer herbicide resistance. We determined pds sequence from these hydrilla biotypes at planting and 12-mo after planting. Two independent mutations at the arginine 304 codon of pds were found in the resistant hydrilla plants. The codon usage for arginine 304 is CGT, and a single point mutation yielding either serine (AGT) or histidine (CAT) was identified in different resistant hydrilla biotypes. There were no differences at codon 304 in the PDS protein of any hydrilla biotype 12-mo after planting. Several other mutations were also found in resistant pds alleles, though their possible role in herbicide resistance is unclear.
Nomenclature: Fluridone; hydrilla, Hydrilla verticillata (L.f.) Royle HYLLI