Out in PNAS: Convergent evolution of herbicide resistance

Multiple modes of convergent adaptation in the spread of glyphosate-resistant Amaranthus tuberculatus

Kreiner et al., PNAS, published September 30, 2019

While evolution has been thought of as playing out over millions of years, adaptation to new environments can occur very rapidly, presenting us with key opportunities to understand evolutionary dynamics. One of the most amazing examples of real-time evolution comes from agriculture, where due to the intense use of a few herbicides, many plant species have evolved herbicide resistance to become aggressive weeds. An important question has been whether herbicide resistance arises only rarely and then spreads quickly, or whether herbicide resistance arises all the time de novo. Our work with glyphosate resistance in US Midwestern and Canadian populations of Amaranthus tuberculatus reveals the answer to be, “it depends,” as we surprisingly find examples for both modes of evolution.