super pigweed ie. Roundup-resistant A. palmeri, like sickle cell?

nluv4hsMay 8, 2010

May 3 NY Times article:

Farmers Cope With Roundup-Resistant Weeds

By William Neuman and Andrew Pollack

The article talks about Roundup-resistant Palmer amaranth, a.k.a. pigweed, outcompeting Roundup-ready cotton and other cash crops, forcing minimum-till farmers to start plowing again.

I was thinking: isn't it likely that whatever genetic trait confers survival value on these particular plants in the face of glyphosate (Roundup) might be a weakness in every other circumstance? In other words, isn't it likely that the amaranth plants which survive glyphosate poisoning are weaker than normal amaranth plants in every other regard?

That would be just like sickle cell trait in humans. It gives you protection against malaria, but hurts you in every other way.


Thanks, Keith

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leftwood(z4a MN)

Possible, but I don't see how you can come to such a conclusion without evidence pointing to same.

Does a flower that develops more attractive color to it's pollinator necessarily hurt the plant in other aspects? Certainly not!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 8:07AM
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Good point about evolution. Organisms evolved so many adaptations. Each adaptation must not always be a matter of trade off.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 9:46PM
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Excellent news. Nice to see at least a small minimum of biodiversity starting to fight back against human destruction of the environment!


    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 5:07AM
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nluv4hs, to my mind there are two issues here.

  1. Inbreeding leads to the manifestation of one genetic characteristic perhaps to the exclusion of others. An example would be the intensive inbreeding of chickens for "live weight gain" only. The result has been the 'broiler chick' which achieved a 'food conversion ratio' of 3:1 but which had to be protected from disease by inoculation from "Day One" - literally.
  2. IPM practices indicate (dictate?) that we use different tools against the problem. For weed control, chemicals have a part in the big scene; but even with chemicals we must alternate those with a different 'mode of action' for the overall weed control program to be effective over the long haul.
    Even before "genetically engineered" crops, those who used glyphosate observed upsurge in other weeds which were not susceptible to that chemical. Instead of increasing the rate, they chose another chemical. I personally am pleased to see that glyphosate, at a much reduced rate, is no longer touted as a PGR. It was the certain path to the development of resistant weeds.
    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 7:43AM
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Thank you for this insight. I especially found interesting the fact that glyphosate users noticed resistant weeds before the popularity of genetically engineered crops. Curious, why do you put quotes around "genetically engineered"?

Links for the lay people (like me):

PGR, Plant growth regulator

IPM, Integrated pest management

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 10:29PM
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So i have had a crazy thought..Is it possible to introduce it to amaranth the grain variety and let them cross to make a more edible strain, that could become a harvest crop? I know the greens can be edible but I also read about how it collects nitrogen when over fertilized which can make it toxic?? is this right? . It just seems the soil is trying to regulate and heal itself and finding a way to get all that produce back into the soil in the form of compost, green tillage, properly scheduled chop and drop (before it seeds) could be perfected. It's biomass and that in it's self has importance. Can we use it to make paper? Bio-Gas? Why are we fighting this weed? I feel like it's so important we figure out how to make the very most of these super weeds..they insist apparently.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 1:06AM
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nluv4hs, the quotes were to highlight what I consider a turning point in agriculture.
My view is that GI names a "man made" (more quotes!) process; which is the same as a natural selection process that has been going on naturally for eons.
Similarly, "Tissue Culture" has imitated natural selection on another front - adaptable varieties.
And I cannot let go of the saga of "Golden Rice".

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 7:15AM
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It's too bad that we don't have the ability to see which new strands formed to make these adaptations possible.
To know which DNA bases rearranged themselves, and on which genes, would give us an understanding of how to do genetic engineering with a little more finesse.

Currently we are just 'splicing' stuff together. :)

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 4:19PM
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nluv4hs, maplerbirch's observation is quite accurate. Curiosity, the search, is what science is all about.
Consider that the Astrology gave us Astronomy.
Alchemy gave us Chemistry.
The Phlogiston theory led us to understand oxidation.
Each process was advanced by men and women who were motivated to "seek further".

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 6:16PM
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nluv4hs, and here is a quote from a book, "The Fault in Our Stars", by John Green. The emphasis is mine.
Cancer kids are essentially side effects of "the relentless mutation that made the diversity of life on earth possible."
A poignant truth.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 9:48AM
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It is assumed that mutations moved us upward and onward from microbe to man, therefore we assume that genetic mutation is creating new information to make "super" weeds or "super" bugs.

Observable science only shows loss of information, making them "sub" weeds or "sub" bugs. :)

As all species lose genetic integrity over successive generations, the idea of correcting damaged or mutated genes will be the important advancement in our own future.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 7:33AM
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nluv4hs, my knowledge of genetics is sketch indeed; but "randomness" is the pervasive characteristic. The math and statistics of this treatise are way beyond me but I remain unconvinced that mutations trend in any particular direction - upward or onward.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 10:30PM
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Hi, interesting topic. i must say that botany was my favorite subject in my school times and i learnt a lot about it.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 5:10AM
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keking(z6 TN)

Keith wrote, "I was thinking: isn't it likely that whatever genetic trait confers survival value on these particular plants in the face of glyphosate (Roundup) might be a weakness in every other circumstance?"

Tolerance of glyphosate alone may not always be a disadvantage in areas not contaminated by Roundup. However, a glyphosate tolerant strain may survive in contaminated soil despite any other inherent weaknesses.

Furthermore, it does happen that persistent selection for one or a few characteristics can lead to an accumulation of undesirable traits. There was the case of a man who was making great progress in improving the colors and size of sweetpeas. He was surprised to learn that his improved strains had lost much of their fragrance.

Here's another case:

The Russian fur industry decided to domesticate Silver Foxes, to make them easier to handle. Within 25 years they had succeeded in developing a breed that was as domesticated as dogs.

The program was not a complete success, however, because the foxes began to vary in undesirable ways. Patches of white appeared on some specimens, along with floppy ears, and tails of variable lengths. Some had curled tails.

As has happened in other organisms, selection for uniformity in one trait brought variability in others -- though there had been no great variation before the selective process began.

Belyaev, the breeder, had carefully avoided inbreeding.


Here is a link that might be useful: The Farm Fox Experiment

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 11:40AM
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