- Project Leader: Prof. Robert Edwards
- Staff: Dr. Melissa Brazier-Hicks
- Sponsors: Syngenta
- Partners: Roobina Baloch and James Booth
Maintaining the effective control of weeds in arable crop production is one of the principal problems faced by modern agriculture. The relative tolerance of weeds and crops to herbicides, known as selectivity, is an important determinant of effective weed control.
Safeners are agrochemicals that increase herbicide tolerance in cereals, reducing crop damage and enhancing selective weed control. While the mode of action of safening is not fully understood, it is known to be associated with the increased expression of xenobiotic detoxifying enzymes, collectively termed the xenome, which results in the accelerated metabolism of herbicides.
The ability of Safeners to cause large changes in xenome expression has the potential to modify the metabolism of other classes of pesticides which may be present. In addition, Safener-induced herbicide metabolism may include the production of aberrant metabolites, modified levels of conventional metabolites, and alterations in final residue composition.
In this project, the ability of Safeners to alter the rate and/or route of detoxification of a range of systemic pesticides is investigated in key cereal crops, with a focus on herbicide mixtures.