A wild population of a plant species, especially a cross-pollinated species, can display considerable genetic variation. Genetic variability is evident in differential susceptibility to an herbicide because the population can show continuous phenotypic variation. Recent, recurrent selection studies have revealed that phenotypic variation in response to low herbicide rates is heritable and can result in rapid evolution of herbicide resistance in genetically variable cross-pollinated rigid ryegrass. In this study, the heritable genetic variation in an herbicide-susceptible rigid ryegrass population was exploited to shift the population toward greater herbicide susceptibility by recurrent selection. To enhance herbicide susceptibility, herbicide-susceptible rigid ryegrass plants were divided into two identical clones, and one series of cloned plants was treated with a low rate of herbicide (diclofop). The nontreated clones of individuals that did not survive the herbicide treatment were selected and bulk-crossed to obtain the susceptible progeny. After two cycles of selection, the overall susceptibility to diclofop was doubled. The results indicate that minor genes for resistance are present in an herbicide-susceptible rigid ryegrass population, and their exclusion can increase susceptibility to diclofop.
Nomenclature: Diclofop; rigid ryegrass, Lolium rigidum Gaudin. LOLRI.