Weed populations can have high genetic plasticity and rapid responses to environmental selection pressures. For example, 100-fold amplification of the 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS) gene evolved in the weed species Amaranthus palmeri to confer resistance to glyphosate, the world's most important herbicide. However, the gene amplification mechanism is unknown. We sequenced the EPSPS gene and genomic regions flanking EPSPS loci in A. palmeri, and searched for mobile genetic elements or repetitive sequences. The EPSPS gene was 10,229 bp, containing 8 exons and 7 introns. The gene amplification likely proceeded through a DNA-mediated mechanism, as introns exist in the amplified gene copies and the entire amplified sequence is at least 30 kb in length. Our data support the presence of two EPSPS loci in susceptible (S) A. palmeri, and that only one of these was amplified in glyphosate-resistant (R) A. palmeri. The EPSPS gene amplification event likely occurred recently, as no sequence polymorphisms were found within introns of amplified EPSPS copies from R individuals. Sequences with homology to miniature inverted-repeat transposable elements (MITEs) were identified next to EPSPS gene copies only in R individuals. Additionally, a putative Activator (Ac) transposase and a repetitive sequence region were associated with amplified EPSPS genes. The mechanism controlling this DNA-mediated amplification remains unknown. Further investigation is necessary to determine if the gene amplification may have proceeded via DNA transposon-mediated replication, and/or unequal recombination between different genomic regions resulting in replication of the EPSPS gene.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)