Multiple herbicide resistance in grass weeds


Cereals & Oilseeds
Project code:
01 May 2014 - 31 August 2018
AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds.
AHDB sector cost:
Total project value:
Project leader:
Lead Partner University of Newcastle Scientific partners University of Sheffield Rothamsted Research University of Edinburgh Zoological Society of London University of York


About this project


Evolved resistance to herbicides in black-grass is a major constraint to cereal production in the UK. This project examined the evolution and management of herbicide resistance in black-grass, from the genetic to the agroecosystem level.

Multiple herbicide resistance (MHR), whereby black-grass evolves resistance to multiple active agents irrespective of chemistry or mode of action, has been a particular focus for the project.

Arranged into five work packages, the project has addressed five key questions:

  • What is the molecular physiological basis of MHR?

  • What is the extent and impact of MHR?

  • What are the major drivers of resistance evolution?

  • Can applied evolutionary models aid in resistance management?

  • What are the economic and environmental consequences of novel weed and resistance management?

Cutting-edge research approaches were used to understand herbicide resistance and its evolution in the field. The results were used to develop new tools and knowledge for black-grass management.

The key outcomes from the programme are:

  • Key proteins that are causatively linked to MHR have been identified.

  • Understanding how these proteins function in resistance and how they could be disrupted in future have been improved.

  • Evidence for sub-types of MHR, linked to specific herbicide chemistries, has been found.

  • Latent viruses in black-grass, which could be of value in future biocontrol programmes, have been characterised.

  • Epigenetic mechanisms were deemed unlikely to be an evolutionary driver of MHR inheritance.

  • The first evidence for active roles for transporter proteins functioning in MHR and their coupled function with detoxifying enzymes was found.

  • Practical diagnostics for MHR in black-grass, which can be used to detect resistance in the field in 10 minutes, have been developed.

  • A national audit of resistant black-grass populations has been conducted an linked to previous management.

  • A characterised collection of herbicide resistant black-grass populations provide an essential research resource.

  • Knowledge that can help reduce the likelihood of resistance evolution has been underpinned.

  • Predictive models of herbicide resistance have been aligned to on-farm decisions.

  • Environmental and economic valuation of cost and mitigation of resistance has been published.