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Plant Physiol. 2003 Jan;131(1):139-46.

Ethylmethanesulfonate saturation mutagenesis in Arabidopsis to determine frequency of herbicide resistance.

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  • 1Cereon Genomics, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.


Plant resistance to glyphosate has been reported far less frequently than resistance to sulfonylurea and imidazolinone herbicides. However, these studies tend to be anecdotal, without side by side comparisons for a single species or natural isolate. In this study, we tested the frequencies of resistance of three herbicides in a controlled ethylmethanesulfonate (EMS) saturation mutagenesis experiment, allowing a direct comparison of the frequencies at which resistant mutant plants arise. The 100% growth inhibition dose rates of glyphosate, chlorsulfuron (a sulfonylurea herbicide), and imazethapyr (an imidazolinone herbicide) were determined for Arabidopsis. Populations of EMS-mutagenized M(2) seedlings were sprayed with twice the 100% growth inhibition dose of glyphosate, chlorsulfuron, or imazethapyr, and herbicide-resistant mutants were identified. Although there were no glyphosate-resistant mutants among M(2) progeny of 125,000 Columbia and 125,000 Landsberg erecta M(1) lines, chlorsulfuron resistance and imazethapyr resistance each appeared at frequencies of 3.2 x 10(-5). Given the observed frequency of herbicide resistance mutations, we calculate that there are at least 700 mutations in each EMS-mutagenized Arabidopsis line and that fewer than 50,000 M(1) lines are needed to have a 95% chance of finding a mutation in any given G:C base pair in the genome. As part of this study, two previously unreported Arabidopsis mutations conferring resistance to imidazolinone herbicides, csr1-5 (Ala-122-Thr) and csr1-6 (Ala-205-Val), were discovered. Neither of these mutations caused enhanced resistance to chlorsulfuron in Arabidopsis.

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