BACKGROUND: Echinochloa colona is an annual weed affecting field crops and orchards in California. An E. colona population carrying a mutation in the EPSPS gene endowing resistance to glyphosate, the most widely used non-selective herbicide, was recently identified in the Northern Sacramento Valley of California. Plants from this population, from a suspected glyphosate-resistant (GR) population, and from one susceptible (S) population collected in the Northern Sacramento Valley of California, were used to generate three GR and one S selfed lines to study possible mechanisms involved in glyphosate resistance. RESULTS: Based on the amount of glyphosate required to kill50%of the plants (LD50), GR lines were 4–9-fold more resistant than S plants and accumulated less shikimate after glyphosate treatment. GR and S lines did not differ in glyphosate absorption, translocation or metabolism. A different target-site mutation was found in each of two of the GR lines corresponding to Pro106Thr and Pro106 Ser substitutions; the mutations were found in different homoeologous EPSPS genes. No mutation was found in the third GR line, which exhibited 1.4-fold higher basal EPSPS activity and a fivefold greater LD50 than S plants. Quantitative RT-PCR revealed that GR lines had similar or lower EPSPS expression than S plants.
CONCLUSION: It is demonstrated that individuals with different glyphosate resistance mechanisms can coexist in the same population, individuals from different populations may carry different resistance mechanisms and different mechanisms can act in concert within single E. colona plants. However, other plant factors or resistance mechanisms appear to modulate plant expression of EPSPS sensitivity to glyphosate.