Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: February 1, 2009
Publication Date: September 1, 2009
Citation: Horvath, D.P., Anderson, J.V. 2009. Leafy Spurge: An Emerging Model to Study Traits of Perennial Weeds. In: Stewart, N., Editor. Weedy and Invasive Plant Genomics. 1st Edition. Ames, IA. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 113-126.
Interpretive Summary: This book chapter reviews various aspects of the nature of Perennialism and how leafy spurge is being used as a model to study bud dormancy and vegetative reproduction.
Weeds contain inherent genetic traits that give them remarkable plasticity, allowing them to adapt, regenerate, survive, and thrive in a multitude of ecosystems. Many weeds are capable of vegetative regeneration from tissue which can arise spontaneously from root or stem tissues following tilling or destruction of the aerial portion of the plant. Other plants maintain a ready supply of vegetative propogules in the form of shoot buds on roots or stems that can rapidly produce a new shoot following damage to the plant. In such weeds, any control measure that fails to kill the entire vegetative structure, or worse, just breaks up the vegetative structure often results in growth of more shoots than were originally present. Many perennial weeds, due to their ability to readily regenerate from vegetative tissues after prolonged absence of growth, pose a special problem for weed control. They often support a bud bank which, like a seed bank, can produce vegetative propogules years following the initial attempt to control a given infestation. This chapter will review the various mechanisms by which weeds regenerate new shoots, how growth and dormancy is regulated in buds, and examine a case study on bud dormancy analysis using a model perennial weed, leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula). Hopefully the genes and signals regulating these processes will eventually be exploited not only to develop novel weed control strategies, but to also enhance crop production by capitalizing on the traits that make weeds so competitive.