Unlocking the Genetic Code of Pests

Unlocking the Genetic Code of Pests

In every acre, in every field, in (nearly) every row of crops on earth, farmers have to deal with weeds.

Within the last ten years, a few dozen scientists have turned to genomics to understand why some weeds have developed herbicide resistance or become more invasive. Genomics’ time in the spotlight is largely due to media buzz around The Human Genome Project, a massive international effort devoted to unlocking the secrets of human DNA. But plants have genomes, too.

Put simply, a genome is the blueprint for an organism’s bloodline — the traits passed down from parent to offspring. It’s usually encoded in the DNA. Using different DNA sequencing techniques, some have partially or fully mapped various crop weed genomes. And while the expensive endeavor can’t offer immediate answers to the problems farmers face in the field, it can provide data to make more effective herbicides down the line.

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