Submitted to: Journal of Chemical Ecology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 30, 2000
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: There is no standard methods for studying how herbicides work. This manuscript describes the protocols scientists at the USDA-ARS NPURU use to study the mode of action of natural phytotoxins. It consists of a stepwise approach designed to generate as much biological information related to what the compounds do, while using as little material as possible. This battery of tests is meant to assist scientists in their search for novel modes of action.
Technical Abstract: The potential use of natural phytotoxins (including allelochemicals) to develop novel tools for weed management is enhanced by the elucidation of their modes of action. This approach has not been emphasized by the agrochemical industry, although the possibility of discovering new target sites may be promising since natural products tend to have modes of action different than synthetic herbicides. The approach of testing a compound on all known herbicide molecular target sites for commercial herbicides and other potent phytotoxins is feasible. However, this would preclude the discovery of new mechanisms of action. Discovering new target sites requires more challenging holistic approaches, initiated with physiological and biochemical studies using whole plants assays. Studying basic plant responses to the compound may yield important clues to the specific physiological processes affected by the compounds and uncover novel mechanisms of action.