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Soil microbial response to herbicides applied to glyphosate-resistant canola

Lupwayi, N.Z., Harker, K.N., Clayton, G.W., O'Donovan, J.T., Blackshaw, R.E. (2009). Soil microbial response to herbicides applied to glyphosate-resistant canola, 129(1-3), 171-176.


Adoption of glyphosate-resistant canola (Brassica napus L.) has increased glyphosate applications to this crop, and concerns have been raised about unintended consequences of these multiple applications. A field trial was conducted to evaluate the effects of pre-seed and in-crop glyphosate and alternative herbicides on soil microbial community functional structure, diversity and biomass. Pre-seed treatments were 2,4-D, glyphosate and 2,4-D + glyphosate, and in-crop treatments were glyphosate applied once, glyphosate applied twice, ethalfluralin, ethalfluralin + sethoxydim + ethametsulfuron + clopyralid, and sethoxydim + ethametsulfuron. Rhizosphere and bulk soil was collected at flowering stage of canola and analyzed for bacterial community-level substrate utilization patterns and microbial biomass C (MBC). Where differences were significant, pre-seed application of both 2,4-D and glyphosate altered the functional structure and reduced the functional diversity of soil bacteria, but increased MBC. These effects were not necessarily concurrent. The reduction in functional diversity was due to reduction in evenness, which means that the soil where both pre-seed herbicides had been applied was dominated by only few functional groups. In 1 year, two in-crop applications of glyphosate also reduced the functional diversity of soil bacteria when applied after pre-seed 2,4-D, as did in-crop sethoxydim + ethametsulfuron following pre-seed glyphosate. Even though significant differences between herbicides were fewer than non-significant differences, i.e., there were no changes in soil microbial community structure, diversity or biomass in response to glyphosate or alternative herbicides applied to glyphosate-resistant canola in most cases, the observed changes in soil microbial communities could affect soil food webs and biological processes. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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