The silver bullet that wasn't: Rapid agronomic weed adaptations to glyphosate in North America

Christopher Landau, Kevin Bradley, Erin Burns, Michael Flessner, Karla Gage, Aaron Hager, Joseph Ikley, Prashant Jha, Amit Jhala, Paul O. Johnson, William Johnson, Sarah Lancaster, Travis Legleiter, Dwight Lingenfelter, Mark Loux, Eric Miller, Jason Norsworthy, Micheal Owen, Scott Nolte, Debalin SarangiPeter Sikkema, Christy Sprague, Mark Vangessel, Rodrigo Werle, Bryan Young, Martin M. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The rapid adoption of glyphosate-resistant crops at the end of the 20th century caused a simplification of weed management that relied heavily on glyphosate for weed control. However, the effectiveness of glyphosate has diminished. A greater understanding of trends related to glyphosate use will shed new light on weed adaptation to a product that transformed global agriculture. Objectives were to (1) quantify the change in weed control efficacy from postemergence (POST) glyphosate use on troublesome weeds in corn and soybean and (2) determine the extent to which glyphosate preceded by a preemergence (PRE) improved the efficacy and consistency of weed control compared to glyphosate alone. Herbicide evaluation trials from 24 institutions across the United States of America and Canada from 1996 to 2021 were compiled into a single database. Two subsets were created; one with glyphosate applied POST, and the other with a PRE herbicide followed by glyphosate applied POST. Within each subset, mean and variance of control ratings for seven problem weed species were regressed over time for nine US states and one Canadian province. Mean control with POST glyphosate alone decreased over time while variability in control increased. Glyphosate preceded by a labeled PRE herbicide showed little change in mean control or variability in control over time. These results illustrate the rapid adaptation of agronomically important weed species to the paradigm-shifting product glyphosate. Including more diversity in weed management systems is essential to slowing weed adaptation and prolonging the usefulness of existing and future technologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberpgad338
JournalPNAS Nexus
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2023


  • corn (Zea mays)
  • glyphosate
  • herbicide resistance
  • soybean (Glycine max)
  • weed adaptation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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