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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Nitrogenase Activity, Nitrogen Content, and Yield Responses to Glyphosate in Glyphosate-Resistant Soybean

Authors
item Zablotowicz, Robert
item Reddy, Krishna

Submitted to: Crop Protection Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 3, 2005
Publication Date: February 7, 2007
Citation: Zablotowicz, R.M., Reddy, K.N. 2007. Nitrogenase activity, nitrogen content, and yield responses to glyphosate in glyphosate-resistant soybean. Crop Protection Journal 26:370-376.

Interpretive Summary: Glyphosate-resistant (GR) soybean expressing a glyphosate-insensitive 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS) enzyme has provided new opportunities for weed control in soybean production. However, glyphosate is toxic to the soybean nitrogen-fixing symbiont, Bradyrhizobium japonicum, as its EPSPS enzyme is sensitive to glyphosate. Scientists at Southern Weed Science Research Unit, Stoneville, MS have examined the effects of glyphosate on symbiotic parameters, nitrogen accumulation, and yield in GR soybean under weed-free conditions in a 3-yr field study. Four glyphosate (0.84, 1.68, 2.52 + 2.52, and 0.84 + 0.84 kg ae/ha) treatments applied at 4 and 6 weeks after planting (WAP) soybean were compared to a no glyphosate (hand weeded) control. No consistent effect of glyphosate was observed on either nitrogen fixing activity or root respiration. All glyphosate treatments reduced foliar nitrogen content in 2002. In 2003 and 2004, three and two glyphosate treatments, respectively, reduced foliar nitrogen content. Soybean yield was reduced with two applications of 2.52 kg/ha glyphosate compared to hand weeded control in 2002, but seed yield was not affected in 2003 and 2004. Total seed nitrogen harvested in 2002 and 2003 was reduced when two applications of 2.52 kg/ha glyphosate was applied compared to hand weeded soybean. These studies indicate that nitrogen accumulation in GR soybean was only slightly affected at label use rate, but was consistently reduced at above label use rates of glyphosate and the greatest reductions occurred with soil moisture stress following glyphosate application.

Technical Abstract: Transgenic glyphosate-resistant (GR) soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] expressing a glyphosate-insensitive 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS) enzyme has provided new opportunities for weed control in soybean production. However, glyphosate is toxic to the soybean nitrogen-fixing symbiont, Bradyrhizobium japonicum, as its EPSPS enzyme is sensitive to glyphosate. The effects of glyphosate on symbiotic parameters, nitrogen accumulation, and yield in GR soybean under weed-free conditions were determined in a 3-yr field study during 2002-2004. Four glyphosate (0.84, 1.68, 2.52 + 2.52, and 0.84 + 0.84 kg ae/ha) treatments applied at 4 and 6 weeks after planting (WAP) soybean were compared to a no glyphosate, hand weeded (weed-free) control. In 2002 and 2003, soybean plants were harvested at 5, 6, 7, and 8 WAP, and roots assessed for nitrogenase activity (acetylene reduction assay, ARA), root respiration, nodulation, and root biomass. Soybean seed yield, leaf and seed nitrogen content were determined in all three years. No consistent effect of glyphosate was observed on either ARA or root respiration. In 2002, both ARA and respiration were about a third of that in 2003, attributed to early-season drought in 2002. All glyphosate treatments reduced foliar nitrogen content (26 to 42%) in 2002. In 2003 and 2004, three and two glyphosate treatments, respectively, reduced foliar nitrogen content (8 to 13%), with the greatest reduction when glyphosate was applied at the highest rate. Soybean yield was reduced by 11% with two applications of 2.52 kg ae/ha glyphosate compared to hand weeded control in 2002, but seed yield was not affected in 2003 and 2004. Total seed nitrogen harvested in 2002 and 2003 was reduced by 32 and 17%, respectively, when two applications of 2.52 kg ae/ha glyphosate was applied compared to hand weeded soybean. These studies indicate that nitrogen fixation and/or assimilation in GR soybean was only slightly affected at label use rate, but was consistently reduced at above label use rates of glyphosate and the greatest reductions occurred with soil moisture stress following glyphosate application.

Last Modified: 10/20/2014
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