School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Projects

Crop Specificity of herbicide safeners

Crop protection is an important activity in agriculture as it is responsible for the safeguarding of 40% of global food production (Edwards, 2015). However, recent challenges including demanding regulations, the limited discovery of new herbicide/pesticide modes of action and increasing pest and weed resistance to control agents now challenge the sector. Faced with these constraints new chemical tools allowing the diversification in application of existing herbicides have been developed.  An important tool in allowing herbicides to be used in new application are  safeners ; a diverse group of agrochemicals used to enhance tolerance to selective herbicides in large-grained cereal crops, thereby suppressing weeds and ensuring crop yield and quality. The general aim of this project is to attempt to elucidate the molecular basis of herbicide safeners and address issues such as herbicide-safener/species specificity which could potentially assist in predicting new applications for these compounds in crop protection.  More specifically, a maize safener and its xenome-inducing and herbicide tolerance invoking activity will be studied in different crops and model organisms with the aim of dissecting the molecular basis of its differential activity in these species. The characterisation of the relationship between herbicide safeners and natural signalling mechanisms can inevitably lead to a better and safer design of herbicide safeners aiming at the sustainable intensification of agriculture.