The work in the Baucom lab integrates across the fields of ecology, evolution, and genetics to understand the mechanisms that underlie the success and persistence of noxious agricultural weeds. We specifically focus on the problem of herbicide resistance since herbicides are the main technological tool used to remove weed populations from crops1. Although herbicide resistance is, at its basis, a problem in evolutionary biology, scientists have focused primarily on documenting the problem rather than understanding its evolution2. Our research asks: Are there constraints or “brakes” on herbicide resistance evolution? What is the genetic basis of herbicide resistance, and is it the same across populations? How does the plant mating system influence the evolution of resistance?
We primarily use the common morning glory, Ipomoea purpurea, a noxious agricultural weed of corn, cotton and soy crops in the United States3 to examine these questions. This species is resistant to glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide RoundUp, which, due to the widespread adoption of RoundUp Ready crops, is the most utilized herbicide in agriculture worldwide4,5. We use a combination of manipulative field experiments, genomic sequencing and bioinformatics applications to address our questions. Field experiments allow us to understand the broad evolutionary patterns that influence the maintenance of RoundUp resistance in nature, while genome sequencing and bioinformatics tools allow us to examine its genetic basis. The below links will lead you to more information about our work.
Theme 1. Are there brakes on resistance evolution?
Theme 2. How does the plant mating system influence herbicide resistance evolution?
Theme 3. What is the genetic basis of herbicide resistance, and is it the same across populations?
New directions. Genetic basis of ecologically relevant traits in the sweet potato
1. Jasieniuk, M., BruleBabel, A. L. & Morrison, I. N. The evolution and genetics of herbicide resistance in weeds. Weed Science 44, 176–193 (1996).
2. Neve, P. Challenges for herbicide resistance evolution and management: 50 years after Harper. Weed Research 47, 365–369 (2007).
3. Baucom, R. S., Chang, S.-M., Kniskern, J. M., Rausher, M. D. & Stinchcombe, J. R. Morning glory as a powerful model in ecological genomics: tracing adaptation through both natural and artificial selection. Heredity 107, 377–385 (2011).
4. Baucom, R. S. & Mauricio, R. Fitness costs and benefits of novel herbicide tolerance in a noxious weed. P Natl Acad Sci USA 101, 13386–13390 (2004).
5. Owen, M. D. & Zelaya, I. A. Herbicide-resistant crops and weed resistance to herbicides. Pest. Manag. Sci. 61, 301–311 (2005).