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Natural Plant Defense Genes Provide Clues to Safener Protection in Grain Sorghum

Weeds often emerge at the same time as vulnerable crop seedlings and sneak between plants as crops grow. How do farmers kill them without harming the crops themselves?

Seed and chemical companies have developed two major technologies to avoid crop injury from soil- and foliar-applied herbicides: genetically modified herbicide-tolerant crops and safeners, chemicals that selectively – and mysteriously – protect certain crops from damage. Scientists in a new University of Illinois (U of I) study have identified genes and metabolic pathways responsible for safener efficacy in grain sorghum.

The researchers plan to expand the experiment to wheat and hope to identify more precise safener-herbicide-crop combinations that could eventually translate to broadleaf crops.

NIFA supports the research project through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

To read the full article visit the U of I web site.

Want to read about more impacts like this? Check out Fresh from the Field, a weekly bulletin showcasing transformative impacts made by grantees funded by NIFA.​

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