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Weeds Kill Themselves

By Randy Simonson, Ph.D.
Technical Services Manager

Plant pathologist Bryan Bailey with the USDA is working on fungal protein that causes weeds to kill themselves. The research involves Fusarium oxysporum, which cause wilting diseases. The Fusarium is altered (called Nep1) so that it will no longer cause the diseases, however, some plants it is sprayed on still think they are being infected with a disease. These plants produce a hypersensitive response that shuts down parts of the plant and leaves will die off in 3 to 24 hours.

Nep1 does not affect monocot crops, such as corn, wheat barley, rye and turfgrass. Also, when Nep1 is applied with herbicides, the weeds are damaged more than when just the herbicide is used.

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