Long-term control of leafy spurge with glyphosate requires multiple applications because the plant reproduces vegetatively from abundant underground adventitious buds, referred to as crown and root buds. Determining the molecular mechanisms involved in controlling vegetative reproduction in leafy spurge following foliar glyphosate treatment could identify limiting factors or new targets for manipulation of plant growth and development in invasive perennial species. Thus, we treated leafy spurge plants with 0 or 2.24 kg ai ha−1 glyphosate to determine its impact on selected molecular processes in crown buds derived from intact plants and plants decapitated at the soil surface 7 d after glyphosate treatment. New shoot growth from crown buds of foliar glyphosate-treated plants was significantly reduced compared with controls after growth-inducing decapitation, and had a stunted or bushy phenotype. Quantification of a selected set of transcripts involved in hormone biosynthesis and signaling pathways indicated that glyphosate had the most significant impact on abundance of ENT-COPALYL DIPHOSPHATE SYNTHETASE 1, which is involved in a committed step for gibberellin biosynthesis, and auxin transporters including PINs, PIN-LIKES, and ABC TRANSPORTERS. Foliar glyphosate treatment also reduced the abundance of transcripts involved in cell cycle processes, which would be consistent with altered growth patterns observed in this study. Overall, these results suggest that interplay among phytohormones such as auxin, ethylene, and gibberellins affect vegetative growth patterns from crown buds of leafy spurge in response to foliar glyphosate treatment.
Nomenclature: Glyphosate; leafy spurge, Euphorbia esula L.