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Sustainable herbicide discovery strategies

16th June 2021
by MoA Comms
Herbicide resistant blackgrass
Small but dangerous: these herbicide resistant blackgrass seedlings will soon overwhelm the wheat crop

 

Dr Shuji Hachisu, MoA Tech’s Chief Technology Officer, has written a paper on herbicide discovery, just published in a leading peer-reviewed scientific journal.

‘Strategies for discovering resistance-breaking, safe and sustainable commercial herbicides with novel modes of action and chemotypes’ is published in Pest Management Science.

In the face of mounting pressures from resistant weeds, safe and effective new herbicides are an imperative for global food security.

Fundamentally, there are two strategies: an in vivo glasshouse-based approach focused on spraying compounds on weeds or in vitro laboratory screens studying inhibitory activity on selected target enzymes. From both starting points, promising active compounds are then taken through chemical optimization processes and robust herbicidal activity is confirmed in lead candidates.  Safety to humans and the environment must be demonstrated before commercialisation.

The in vivo strategy has been successful in the past but needs large amounts of chemical samples for screening and is time and resource demanding.  An in vitro strategy can vastly increase the number of compounds screened, but the track record of finding new herbicides good enough to be commercialised has been disappointing.

MoA Tech’s own approach is to bring together the best of both strategies using the MoA GalaxyTM high throughput in vivo screening platform.  In addition, MoA GalaxyTM highlights novel modes of action and gives early information on sustainability profiles of hits.  MoA SelectTM then not only validates the mode of action and efficacy but also points to novel chemistry.