Increased research in weed control is urgently required now to address the severe agricultural problems of today and tomorrow. This was a fundamental consensus among all participants of a two-day symposium in Frankfurt and Monheim organized by Bayer CropScience. Sixteen renowned external participants, among them the Nobel Prize-winners in Chemistry Professor Robert Huber and Professor Hartmut Michel, discussed possible solutions and ways forward with some 40 experts from Bayer CropScience.
"For over 25 years no herbicide for broad acre crops with a new mode of action and commercial relevance has been discovered and brought to market by the global crop science industry," says Dr. Hermann Stübler, Head of Research Frankfurt and Weed Control Research at Bayer CropScience. "There is tremendous selection pressure for herbicide resistance in weeds in all major row crops, and options are shrinking. Weed resistance is a growing problem that is changing agronomic practices and threatening the long-term viability of economical weed control," adds Professor Stephen Powles, Director at the University of Western Australia.
The objective of the symposium was to discuss options for an urgent turnaround in weed-control research. For this purpose, the participants worked in groups on different topics such as how to increase our understanding of plants as whole systems; focusing on new ways to discover new herbicide modes of action and improve chemical lead discovery; and defining collaboration opportunities with leading institutes.
As Professor Willmitzer stressed in his presentation of the results, "The need for new herbicides with alternative modes of action and/or resistance breaking capabilities is more urgent than ever. This could be achieved by increasing the efforts towards research into plant systems biology and systematically screening for novel in vivo phenotyping technologies followed by elucidating the underlying molecular targets and pathways. This scientifically challenging task could be addressed via innovative collaboration models, for example by setting up science hubs at scientific hot-spots with resources shared with public research organizations, such as the MPI. We have to look at new sources for novel compounds, including natural products, and engage in further dialog with our health care colleagues. Another innovation source would be the development of truly synergistic formulations combining herbicides with novel modes of action?
More is at http://www.bayercropscience.com