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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fargo, North Dakota » Edward T. Schafer Agricultural Research Center » Weed and Insect Biology Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #387705

Research Project: Biology of Weed-Crop Interactions to Improve Weed Management Strategies in Northern Agro-ecosystems

Location: Weed and Insect Biology Research

Title: Weed-induced crop yield loss: A new paradigm and new challenges

item Horvath, David
item CLAY, SHARON - South Dakota State University
item SWANTON, CLARANCE - University Of Guelph
item Anderson, James
item Chao, Wun

Submitted to: Trends in Plant Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/16/2022
Publication Date: 5/1/2023
Citation: Horvath, D.P., Clay, S., Swanton, C., Anderson, J.V., Chao, W.S. 2023. Weed-induced crop yield loss: A new paradigm and new challenges. Trends in Plant Science. 28(5):567-582.

Interpretive Summary: It has long been presumed that weeds reduce crop yield by direct competition for resources. In this study, scientists found evidence that this was not likely to be true. Rather, a new understanding was developed to explain that weeds reduce crop yield by altering plant development early in the growing season. Aspects of this new idea were tested by showing that a model plant (Arabidopsis) demonstrates similar response to weeds as crop plants and that mutants of Arabidopsis confirmed that blocking plant hormone signals could partially protect Arabidopsis from weed-induced yield losses. This work provides a novel way to manipulate or engineer crops to be more tolerant of weeds.

Technical Abstract: Direct competition for resources is generally considered the primary mechanism for weed-induced yield loss. A re-evaluation of physiological evidence suggests weeds initially impact crop growth and development through resource independent interference. We suggest weed perception by crops induce a shift in crop developmental programs, before resources become limited, which ultimately reduce crop yield- even if weeds are subsequently removed. The mechanisms by which crops perceive and respond to weeds, and the technologies used to identify these mechanisms are presented and discussed. These data lead to a fundamental paradigm shift in our understanding of how weeds reduce crop yield and suggest new research directions and opportunities to manipulate or engineer crops and cropping systems to prevent weed-induced yield losses.