A common genetic basis for cross-sensitivity to mesotrione and nicosulfuron in sweet corn hybrid cultivars and inbreds grown throughout North America

Jerald K. Pataky, Martin M. Williams, Dean E. Riechers, Michael D. Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mutation of a cytochrome P450 (CYP) gene on the short arm of chromosome five, referred to as nsf1 or ben1, conditions sensitivity to certain P450-metabolized herbicides in corn (Zea mays L.). Previous research has shown that the sweet corn inbred Cr1 is sensitive to nicosulfuron, mesotrione, and at least seven other P450-metabolized herbicides with five different modes of action. Although the nsf1/ben1 CYP gene has not been sequenced from Cr1, a QTL that conditions cross-sensitivity to P450-metabolized herbicides was detected in a segregating population of Cr1 × Cr2 (herbicide tolerant) on the short arm chromosome five in tight linkage disequilibrium with the nsf1/ben1 CYP locus. Sweet corn hybrid cultivars and inbreds that had been identified in previous research as being susceptible to injury from P450-metabolized herbicides were tested in this study to determine if they were allelic with Cr1 for crosssensitivity to nicosulfuron and mesotrione. These cultivars and inbreds were developed by 12 independent commercial breeding programs. These cultivars include sugary, sugary enhancer, and shrunken-2 endosperm types that are grown for processing and fresh consumption in markets throughout North America and in other temperate climates throughout the world. Each hybrid cultivar, their F2 progeny, and progeny from testcrosses of cultivars with Cr1 and Cr2 were evaluated for responses to mesotrione and nicosulfuron. Each inbred line, progeny from crosses of inbreds with Cr1 and Cr2, and F2 progeny from crosses of inbreds with Cr1 were also tested. Based on segregation of progeny from testcrosses with Cr1 and Cr2 and the F2 generation, 45 sweet corn hybrid cultivars and 29 sweet corn inbreds, including lines from each of the 12 breeding programs, appeared to be sensitive to nicosulfuron and mesotrione as the result of a gene that is the same as or very closely linked to the gene in Cr1. None of the cultivars or inbreds appeared to be sensitive to these herbicides as a result of other independent genes; however, additional genes that modify responses to these herbicides may be present in a few cases. The presence of a gene conditioning sensitivity to nicosulfuron and mesotrione, and probably to several other P450-metablolized herbicides, provides an explanation for varied levels of injury and inconsistent responses of sweet corn hybrid cultivars under differing environmental conditions. This information provides a basis from which an industry-wide concern with herbicide sensitivity in sweet corn can be addressed by various methods, including the elimination of an allele rendering germplasm sensitive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)252-260
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Cytochrome P450
  • Herbicide selectivity
  • Tolerance
  • Zea mays

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Horticulture


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