Herbicide-resistant weeds pose a considerable threat to agriculture, but their resistance mechanisms are poorly understood. Differential gene expression analysis of a weed subjected to herbicide treatment is a key step toward more mechanistic studies. Such an analysis, often involving quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR), requires suitable reference genes as internal controls. In this study, we identified optimal reference genes in the noxious weed, Japanese foxtail. This weed has evolved resistance to acetyl-coenzyme A carboxylase (ACCase) inhibitors. We analyzed the stability of eight commonly used candidate reference genes (glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase [GAPDH]; ubiquitin [UBQ]; capsine phosphatase [CAP]; beta-tubulin [TUB]; eukaryotic initiation factor 4a [EIF4A]; elongation factor-1 alpha [EF1]; 18S ribosomal RNA [18S]; 25S ribosomal RNA [25S]) from root, stem, and leaf tissue of plants that were either resistant or sensitive to ACCase inhibitors, with or without herbicide stress, using qPCR. The results were further ranked and analyzed using geNorm, NormFinder, and BestKeeper software. These analyses identified EF1 and UBQ in roots, EF1, TUB, CAP, and 18S in stems, and EF1, GAPDH, and 18S in leaves as suitable references for qPCR normalization. We have identified a set of reference genes that can be used to study herbicide resistance mechanisms in Japanese foxtail.
Nomenclature: Japanese foxtail, Alopecurus japonicus Steud.