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


pr601-final-report-summary-v2 pr601-final-project-report-v2

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.