Use of Multicopy Transposons Bearing Unfitness Genes in Weed Control: Four Example Scenarios

Jonathan Gressel, Avraham A. Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We speculate that multicopy transposons, carrying both fitness and unfitness genes, can provide new positive and negative selection options to intractable weed problems. Multicopy transposons rapidly disseminate through populations, appearing in approximately 100% of progeny, unlike nuclear transgenes, which appear in a proportion of segregating populations. Different unfitness transgenes and modes of propagation will be appropriate for different cases: (1) outcrossing Amaranthus spp. (that evolved resistances to major herbicides); (2) Lolium spp., important pasture grasses, yet herbicide-resistant weeds in crops; (3) rice (Oryza sativa), often infested with feral weedy rice, which interbreeds with the crop; and (4) self-compatible sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), which readily crosses with conspecific shattercane and with allotetraploid johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense). The speculated outcome of these scenarios is to generate weed populations that contain the unfitness gene and thus are easily controllable. Unfitness genes can be under chemically or environmentally inducible promoters, activated after gene dissemination, or under constitutive promoters where the gene function is utilized only at special times (e.g. sensitivity to an herbicide). The transposons can be vectored to the weeds by introgression from the crop (in rice, sorghum, and Lolium spp.) or from planted engineered weed (Amaranthus spp.) using a gene conferring the degradation of a no longer widely used herbicide, especially in tandem with an herbicide-resistant gene that kills all nonhybrids, facilitating the rapid dissemination of the multicopy transposons in a weedy population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1221-1231
Number of pages11
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Use of Multicopy Transposons Bearing Unfitness Genes in Weed Control: Four Example Scenarios'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this