The focus of our weed science group is to study why weeds behave the way they do, and what farmers can do to reduce their interference. Our goal is to identify sustainable solutions for weed problems so farmers can maximize their profits while minimizing environmental impact. We integrate biochemistry, genetics, plant physiology, analytical chemistry, and applied approaches to achieve our goals.
Lack of proper weed management can have a tremendous impacts in crop production. For comparison purposes, overall, weeds have the greatest loss potential (34%), compared to animals (18%) and pathogens (16%). However, these are global estimates. Losses caused by weeds can be direct, as in the example above, or indirect. Indirect losses is when the product farmers intend to market is depreciated, as often happens in grass seed lots contaminated with weed seeds.
Herbicide resistance is a growing issue in Oregon where herbicides are the main tool that farmers use to control weeds. Herbicide resistance evolution in the fields jeopardize the Oregon grass seed industry as herbicides are no longer effective, and alternative management practices are costly and/or non-existent. The weed science program in the Department of Crop and Soil Science currently focuses on understanding the mechanisms of herbicide resistance in weed populations and also management practices for their control. We are investigating how resistant populations of a particular weed species, Italian ryegrass, evolved resistance to many herbicides used by growers, how these populations spread throughout the Willamette Valley (so that we can predict and mitigate their dispersal), and what are the genetic, physiological, and biochemical changes required for plants to withstand lethal doses of herbicides. We are also developing sustainable management practices that farmers can adopt to reduce weed interference.
Principal Investigators: Caio Brunharo and Andrew Hulting. Faculty Research Assistant: Kyle Roerig. Postdoctoral scholars: Seth Abugho, Lucas Riboldi, and Andreia Suzukawa. Visiting Scholar: Roque de Carvalho. Undergraduate Students: Chandra Maki, Nixxon Montgomery, and Adriana Perez. Collaborators: Judit Barroso, Joel Felix, Marcelo Moreti, and Ed Peachey.