Apart from its resistance to herbicides, the naturalization of Johnsongrass across much of the U.S. has also allowed the plant to develop attributes — such as cold and drought tolerance, resistance to pathogens and the ability to flourish in low-fertility soils — that make it particularly difficult to control. “The close relationship between sorghum and Johnsongrass poses both a challenge and an opportunity,” said Paterson, who is housed in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. “The two species are so closely related that no herbicides distinguish between them, making control of Johnsongrass in or near sorghum fields especially difficult. “Regardless, the lessons we learn from Johnsongrass may lead to strategies to improve sorghum and other major crops.” A team of researchers led by faculty at the University of Georgia have received a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to find new ways of combating Johnsongrass, one of the most widespread and troublesome agricultural weeds in the world. But the researchers also hope that learning more about the fundamental structures that give Johnsongrass its unusual resilience will pave the way for new genetic tools to improve useful plants, such as sorghum, a close relative of Johnsongrass that is grown widely for food, animal fodder and as a source of biofuel. Native to the Mediterranean region, Johnsongrass has spread across every continent except Antarctica. It was introduced to the U.S. in the 1800s as a forage crop, but it quickly spread into surrounding farmland and natural environments, where it continues to cause millions of dollars in lost agricultural revenue each year, according to the USDA. This information may lead to new management strategies that target and curb its growth, providing farmers with a more robust toolkit to combat the invasive plant. Over the course of their five-year project, the researchers will work to develop a better understanding of the weed’s capabilities and the underlying genes that make Johnsongrass so resilient. “Weeds like Johnsongrass are a major challenge for agricultural producers around the world,” said Andrew Paterson, Regents Professor, director of UGA’s Plant Genome Mapping Laboratory and principal investigator for the project. “To make matters worse, widespread adoption of herbicide-resistant crops has been associated with a dramatic increase in herbicide-resistant weeds. With 21 genetically similar but different types of Johnsongrass known to be resistant to herbicides, it will only become more problematic in the future.” Other researchers working on this project include Jacob Barney, Virginia Tech; Jeff Dahlberg, University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources; C. Michael Smith, Kansas State University; Wesley Everman, North Carolina State University; Marnie Rout, University of Texas, Temple; and Clint Magill and Gary Odvody, Texas A&M University.
The 28-year-old England full-back scored two stunning free-kicks in the Toffees’ 3-2 Barclays Premier League win at West Ham last Saturday, and the Magpies are on red alert as they prepare to head for Goodison Park on Monday night. Asked what he planned to do to keep Baines at bay, Pardew said with a smile: “We have got this great idea – we are going to have a wall and then piggy-back a wall on top, and then we are going to forget about the cross.” Alan Pardew has come up with a unique plan in an attempt to keep Everton star Leighton Baines at bay. Press Association Pardew is well aware of the threat posed by Baines and understands the potential cost of conceding free-kicks within his range. Indeed, Newcastle were made to pay in similar circumstances at the weekend when a needless foul allowed Hull winger Robbie Brady to send in a free-kick from which Ahmed Elmohamady equalised on the way to a 3-2 victory for the Tigers at St James’ Park. However, he admits it is sometimes difficult to deny opponents opportunities when they are piling on the pressure. Pardew said: “It’s difficult when you are under pressure and they build a bit of heat and you make a rash challenge, as we did on Saturday. It cost us an important goal, that tackle. “But likewise, with Yohan Cabaye, Everton will be under the same orders because trust me, Yohan Cabaye is as good as Leighton Baines from there.” Cabaye was one of six senior players left out of the starting line-up for Wednesday night’s 2-0 Capital One Cup third-round victory over Sky Bet Championship side Leeds. Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Davide Santon, Moussa Sissoko, Hatem Ben Arfa and Loic Remy are all likely to return at Everton, along with Cabaye, although midfield enforcer Cheick Tiote is champing at the bit after returning to full fitness.