Herbicide rotations and mixtures are widely recommended to manage herbicide resistance. However, little research has quantified how these practices actually affect the selection of herbicide resistance in weeds. A 4-yr experiment was conducted in western Canada from 2004 to 2007 to examine the impact of herbicide rotation and mixture in selecting for acetolactate synthase (ALS) inhibitor resistance in the annual broadleaf weed, field pennycress, co-occurring in wheat. Treatments consisted of the ALS-inhibitor herbicide, ethametsulfuron, applied in a mixture with bromoxynil/MCPA formulated herbicide (photosystem-II inhibitor/synthetic auxin), or in rotation with the non-ALS inhibitor at an ALS-inhibitor application frequency of 0, 25, 50, 75, and 100% (i.e., zero to four applications, respectively) over the 4-yr period. The field pennycress seed bank at the start of the experiment contained 5% ethametsulfuron-resistant seed. Although weed control was only marginally reduced, resistance frequency of progeny of survivors increased markedly after one ALS-inhibitor application. At the end of the experiment, the level of resistance in the seed bank was buffered by susceptible seed, increasing from 29% of recruited seedlings after one application to 85% after four applications of the ALS inhibitor. The level of resistance in the seed bank for the mixture treatment after 4 yr remained similar to that of the nontreated (weedy) control or 0% ALS-inhibitor rotation frequency treatment. The results of this study demonstrate how rapidly ALS-inhibitor resistance can evolve as a consequence of repeated application of herbicides with this site of action, and supports epidemiological information from farmer questionnaire surveys and modeling simulations that mixtures are more effective than rotations in mitigating resistance evolution through herbicide selection.
Nomenclature: Bromoxynil; ethametsulfuron; MCPA; field pennycress, Thlaspi arvense L. THLAR; wheat, Triticum aestivum L. ‘AC Barrie’.