Measuring rates of herbicide metabolism in dicot weeds with an excised leaf assay

Rong Ma, Joshua J. Skelton, Dean E. Riechers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In order to isolate and accurately determine rates of herbicide metabolism in an obligate-outcrossing dicot weed, waterhemp (Amaranthus tuberculatus), we developed an excised leaf assay combined with a vegetative cloning strategy to normalize herbicide uptake and remove translocation as contributing factors in herbicide-resistant (R) and –sensitive (S) waterhemp populations. Biokinetic analyses of organic pesticides in plants typically include the determination of uptake, translocation (delivery to the target site), metabolic fate, and interactions with the target site. Herbicide metabolism is an important parameter to measure in herbicide-resistant weeds and herbicide-tolerant crops, and is typically accomplished with whole-plant tests using radiolabeled herbicides. However, one difficulty with interpreting biokinetic parameters derived from whole-plant methods is that translocation is often affected by rates of herbicide metabolism, since polar metabolites are usually not mobile within the plant following herbicide detoxification reactions. Advantages of the protocol described in this manuscript include reproducible, accurate, and rapid determination of herbicide degradation rates in R and S populations, a substantial decrease in the amount of radiolabeled herbicide consumed, a large reduction in radiolabeled plant materials requiring further handling and disposal, and the ability to perform radiolabeled herbicide experiments in the lab or growth chamber instead of a greenhouse. As herbicide resistance continues to develop and spread in dicot weed populations worldwide, the excised leaf assay method developed and described herein will provide an invaluable technique for investigating non-target site-based resistance due to enhanced rates of herbicide metabolism and detoxification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere53236
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number103
StatePublished - Sep 7 2015


  • Acetolactate synthase inhibitor
  • Amaranthus palmeri
  • Amaranthus tuberculatus
  • Cytochrome P450
  • Environmental sciences
  • Glutathione S-transferase
  • Halflife analysis
  • Herbicide degradation
  • Herbicide metabolism
  • High-performance liquid chromatography
  • Issue 103
  • Plant biochemistry
  • Triketone herbicide
  • Xenobiotic detoxification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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