Glyphosate-resistant giant ragweed has become an increasing problem, and the potential spread of these biotypes is a threat to production agriculture and to the long-term utility of glyphosate and glyphosate-resistant crops. The fate of glyphosate resistance in a giant ragweed population is dependent on the fitness of the resistant biotype. Our objective was to determine the fitness of glyphosate-resistant giant ragweed in the absence and presence of glyphosate. We compared the growth and seed production of glyphosate-resistant (GR) and glyphosate-susceptible (GS) giant ragweed under field conditions in the absence of glyphosate. A greenhouse study was also conducted to determine the survival of GR and GS giant ragweed and their open-pollinated progeny from the field study under glyphosate-induced selection pressure. In the absence of glyphosate, GR giant ragweed displayed rapid, early season growth, but 50 d after planting, the biotypes were similar in height, shoot weight, and leaf area. During reproduction, the GR biotype flowered earlier and produced 25% less seed than the GS biotype. In the presence of glyphosate, an outcrossing rate of 31% was detected between GR and GS biotypes because 61% of progeny were resistant to glyphosate at 840 g ae ha−1. A second application 14 d later at 2,520 g ae ha−1 completely removed the GS alleles from the population, whereas several homozygous and heterozygous GR plants survived and produced seed. These results indicate GR will persist in the population when subjected to glyphosate and that glyphosate resistance in giant ragweed has the potential to spread rapidly in our current agricultural ecosystem.
Nomenclature: Glyphosate; giant ragweed, Ambrosia trifida L.