BACKGROUND: Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri S. Wats) is one of the most common and troublesome weeds in the USA. Palmer amaranth resistance to acetolactate synthase (ALS) inhibitors is widespread in the USA, as in Arkansas. The cross-resistance patterns and mechanism of resistance are not known. Experiments were conducted to determine cross-resistance to ALS inhibitors and identify target-site mutations in 20 Palmer amaranth localities from 13 counties in Arkansas.
RESULTS: All Palmer amaranth localities tested had plants cross-resistant to imazethapyr, flumetsulam, primisulfuron, pyrithiobac and trifloxysulfuron. The dose of trifloxysulfuron that caused 50% control was 21–56-fold greater for resis- tant accessions than for susceptible ones. All but three resistant plants analyzed had one or two relative copies of ALS; one plant had seven relative copies. All resistant plants tested (18 localities) carried the Trp574Leu mutation, which is known to confer broad resistance to ALS inhibitors, supporting the cross-resistance pattern observed. Besides the Trp574Leu mutation, 30% of localities had individuals with one additional resistance-conferring mutation including Ala122Thr, Pro197Ala or Ser653Asn.
CONCLUSION: The Trp574Leu mutation in ALS is the primary mechanism of resistance to ALS inhibitors in Palmer amaranth from Arkansas, USA. In some localities, multiple mutations have accumulated in one plant. All localities tested contained plants with resistance to five families of ALS inhibitors. Localities with extremely high resistance to ALS inhibitors, and those outside the subset we studied, may harbor non-target site resistance mechanisms. ALS inhibitors are generally no longer effective on Palmer amaranth in these localities from the US mid-south..