New tools to create bioherbicides for Palmer amaranth (pigweed).
Bioherbicides are organisms that selectively kill specific plant species. Bioherbicides are an attractive alternative to conventional herbicides because of their potential efficacy, specificity, lower cost, and environmental sustainability. However, the commercial development of bioherbicides has been hampered by the innate limitations of many bioherbicide candidates, such as large-scale production obstacles, reduced fitness, or unacceptable host range. Recently, exciting new tools have become available to overcome such limitations. Specifically, the advent of next-generation DNA sequencing, bioinformatics, and genome editing has the potential to revolutionize bioherbicide development. In this project, we developed a workflow integrating the three aforementioned tools to optimize bioherbicide development for the control of Palmer amaranth (e.g., Palmer pigweed; Amaranthus palmeri), an invasive weed that is highly problematic for Arkansas soybean producers. While the workflow described herein was developed specifically for bioherbicides targeting Palmer pigweed, it can be applied with minor modification to bioherbicide development for a broad range of agriculturally important weed species.