22 April 2021
International project on weeds
AN international group of scientists and industry professionals, led by weed scientists at Colorado State University, have launched an ambitious new project aimed at improved management of the most intractable species of weeds in the world.
The International Weed Genomics Consortium, comprising 17 academic partners across seven countries, assembles a global community of experts who will develop genomic tools that fundamentally advance humanity’s approach to weeds and crops. The $3 million consortium is supported by $1.5 million in industry sponsorships and matching funds from the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR), a research and funding organization established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The planned whole-genome approach to advance knowledge of specific weed species is a long time coming, according to project director Todd Gaines, associate professor of molecular weed science in CSU’s Department of Agricultural Biology.
Large-scale weed control is usually accomplished by spraying herbicides, but weeds can adapt and evolve resistance to such treatments. Herbicides becoming less effective costs farmers billions of dollars, forcing increased use of unsustainable practices like soil tillage or even larger quantities of herbicides. In addition, there is a clear need to make herbicides more environmentally friendly and develop plants with fortified genetics that suffer less from emerging weed species.
“When you think about weeds, what makes them great is they are adapted to the harshest situations,” Gaines said. “They are the most cold-tolerant, the most salt-tolerant, the most heat-tolerant.”