Limited fitness costs of herbicide-resistance traits in Amaranthus tuberculatus facilitate resistance evolution

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: The fitness cost of herbicide resistance (HR) in the absence of herbicide selection plays a key role in HR evolution. Quantifying the fitness cost of resistance, however, is challenging, and there exists a knowledge gap in this area. A synthetic (artificially generated) Amaranthus tuberculatus population segregating for five types of HR was subjected to competitive growth conditions in the absence of herbicide selection for six generations. Fitness costs were quantified by using a combination of phenotyping and genotyping to monitor HR frequency changes over generations. RESULTS: In the absence of herbicide selection, a significant fitness cost was observed for resistance to acetolactate synthase-inhibiting herbicides, but not for resistances to atrazine (non-target-site resistance mechanism), protoporphyrinogen oxidase inhibitors, 4-hydroxyphenylpryuvate dioxygenase inhibitors or glyphosate. Glyphosate resistance was conferred by multiple mechanisms in the synthetic population, and further analysis revealed that one mechanism, amplification of the 5-enolypyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase gene, did decrease in frequency. CONCLUSION: Our results indicate that herbicide-resistance mitigation strategies (e.g. herbicide rotation) that rely on the existence of fitness costs in the absence of herbicide selection likely will be largely ineffective in many cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-301
Number of pages9
JournalPest Management Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018



  • Amaranthus tuberculatus
  • evolution
  • fitness cost
  • fitness tradeoff
  • herbicide resistance
  • weed management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Insect Science

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