Purdue University Graduate School
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Efficacy of Synthetic Auxin Herbicides on Segregating Populations of Waterhemp (Amaranthus tuberculatus)

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posted on 2024-04-22, 23:56 authored by Claudia Rose BlandClaudia Rose Bland

Waterhemp (Amaranthus tuberculatus) is one of the most problematic weeds in soybean production in the United States. The ability of waterhemp to quickly evolve resistance threatens the utility of many herbicides. The introduction of Xtend® and Xtendflex® soybeans allow for the in-season application of dicamba and glufosinate. With an increase in dicamba use in soybeans plus its continued use in corn, there have been many reports of dicamba failure on waterhemp.

Greenhouse dose response experiments were conducted to screen six populations of waterhemp for resistance to dicamba. Each population was compared to a known sensitive and known resistant population, with 50% growth reduction (GR50) values of 39 g ae ha-1 and 226 g ae ha-1, respectively. Low-level dicamba resistance was identified in all populations, as they had GR50 values that were different from the known sensitive and R:S ratios that varied from 1.7 to 4.4. Additionally, all six populations exhibited at least 50% survival at a 1/2X rate of dicamba where the sensitive only had 30% survival. Therefore, we can conclude that dicamba resistance in waterhemp is present in multiple counties in Indiana.

In addition to characterizing populations from Indiana, a growth monitoring study was conducted to determine how emergence timing impacted waterhemp growth. In 2021, plants that emerged in the earliest cohort were taller, had more branches, and accumulated more biomass in comparison to later emerging plants at six weeks after flagging. In 2022, drought conditions throughout the month of June impacted growth of earlier emerging plants, and waterhemp that emerged in the latest cohort were taller, had more branches, and accumulated more biomass than earlier emerging cohorts at six weeks after flagging. Seed yields per plant were low in both years, but all cohorts were able to produce seed. This research concludes that in years when soil sufficient moisture is available, earlier emerging waterhemp plants are competitive with crops and later emerging plants can still produce seed.

Additionally, field trials were conducted to determine herbicide programs in the Enlist® and Xtendflex® soybean systems that would best control a waterhemp population with multiple herbicide resistance. At 21 days after the second postemergence application, waterhemp control was highest in two pass systems. The addition of pyroxasulfone to the second postemergence application increased control of waterhemp in the Xtendflex® system. Waterhemp densities were the lowest and soybean yield was the highest in two pass herbicide programs for both systems. The results indicate that waterhemp resistant to chemistries in HRAC Groups #2, #4, #5, #9, #14, and #27 was most effectively controlled by programs with two herbicides applications, either a preemergence followed by postemergence or two pass postemergence, and included 2,4-D and glufosinate in the postemergence application(s).

Finally, a waterhemp population from Francesville, IN was characterized for herbicide resistance via a series of field, greenhouse, and laboratory experiments. Preliminary laboratory analysis confirmed resistance to herbicide actives in the HRAC Groups #2 and #14 via target site mutations and to Group #9 via gene amplification. Field research trials indicated inadequate waterhemp control with preemergence applications of pendimethalin and atrazine and postemergence applications of herbicide actives from Groups #2, #9, #14, and #27 as well as glufosinate and dicamba. Greenhouse dose response experiments revealed GR50 values for the Francesville population that were significantly higher for dicamba, mesotrione, and topramezone than the known sensitive. R:S ratios of 4.4, 3.3, and 1.8, were documented for dicamba, mesotrione, and topramezone, respectively. Data from all experiments demonstrated that the Francesville population is resistant to herbicide actives in Groups #2, #4, #5, #9, #14, and #27.


Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Botany and Plant Pathology

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

William Johnson

Additional Committee Member 2

Bryan Young

Additional Committee Member 3

Stephen Meyers

Additional Committee Member 4

Mark Bernards