U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska




Date of this Version



The Author(s). 2019


Kohlhase et al. BMC Plant Biology (2019) 19:182 https://doi.org/10.1186/s12870-019-1795-x


Background: Waterhemp (Amaranthus tuberculatus (Moq.) J.D. Sauer) is a problem weed commonly found in the Midwestern United States that can cause crippling yield losses for both maize (Zea mays L.) and soybean (Glycine max L. Merr). In 2011, 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvate-dioxygenase (HPPD, EC inhibitor herbicide resistance was first reported in two waterhemp populations. Since the discovery of HPPD-herbicide resistance, studies have identified the mechanism of resistance and described the inheritance of the herbicide resistance. However, no studies have examined genome-wide gene expression changes in response to herbicide treatment in herbicide resistant and susceptible waterhemp.

Results: We conducted RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) analyses of two waterhemp populations (HPPD-herbicide resistant and susceptible), from herbicide-treated and mock-treated leaf samples at three, six, twelve, and twenty-four hours after treatment (HAT). We performed a de novo transcriptome assembly using all sample sequences. Following assessments of our assembly, individual samples were mapped to the de novo transcriptome allowing us to identify transcripts specific to a genotype, herbicide treatment, or time point. Our results indicate that the response of HPPDherbicide resistant and susceptible waterhemp genotypes to HPPD-inhibiting herbicide is rapid, established as soon as 3 hours after herbicide treatment. Further, there was little overlap in gene expression between resistant and susceptible genotypes, highlighting dynamic differences in response to herbicide treatment. In addition, we used stringent analytical methods to identify candidate single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that distinguish the resistant and susceptible genotypes.

Conclusions: The waterhemp transcriptome, herbicide-responsive genes, and SNPs generated in this study provide valuable tools for future studies by numerous plant science communities. This collection of resources is essential to study and understand herbicide effects on gene expression in resistant and susceptible weeds. Understanding how herbicides impact gene expression could allow us to develop novel approaches for future herbicide development. Additionally, an increased understanding of the prolific traits intrinsic in weed success could lead to crop improvement.