, Volume 243, Issue 2, pp 321–335 | Cite as

Multiple mechanism confers natural tolerance of three lilyturf species to glyphosate

  • Chanjuan Mao
  • Hongjie Xie
  • Shiguo Chen
  • Bernal E. Valverde
  • Sheng QiangEmail author
Original Article


Main conclusion

A combination of unique EPSPS structure and increased gene copy number and expression contribute to natural glyphosate tolerance in three lilyturf species.

A few plants are naturally tolerant to glyphosate, the most widely used non-selective herbicide worldwide. Here, the basis for natural tolerance to glyphosate in three lilyturf species, Ophiopogon japonicus (OJ), Liriope spicata (LS), and Liriope platyphylla (LP), is characterized. These species tolerate glyphosate at about five times the commercially recommended field dose. They share three unique amino acids in their 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS) that affect glyphosate binding. These correspond to Asp71Met, Ala112Ile, and Val201Met amino acid variations compared to 231 other published plant EPSPS amino acid sequences. There was also a common deletion at 91 of a highly conserved glutamic acid. Glyphosate-treated lilyturf plants accumulated little shikimic acid but had significantly higher levels of EPSPS mRNA than initially expressed in the control. The IC50 of LsEPSPS was 14.0 µM compared to the 5.1 µM of Arabidopsis thaliana. The higher K m and K i values of LsEPSPS kinetics showed that LsEPSPS had lower substrate binding affinity to glyphosate. Overexpression of LsEPSPS in the recombinant E. coli BL21 (DE3) strain enhanced its tolerance to glyphosate. Both OJ and LS had two copies of the EPSPS gene, while LP had three copies. Therefore, a combination of unique EPSPS structure and increased gene copy number and expression contribute to natural glyphosate tolerance in the three lilyturf species.


EPSPS gene Glyphosate Lilyturf Shikimic acid Tolerance mechanism 



This research was financially supported by China Transgenic Organism Research and Commercialization Project (2014ZX08011), National Science and Technology Pillar Program (2012BAD19B02), and the 111 project. The authors thank Vijay K. Nandula and Franck Dayan (USDA, USA) for the helpful comments and the improvement of the manuscript. The authors, however, accept full responsibility for the results and their interpretation.

Supplementary material

425_2015_2408_MOESM1_ESM.docx (3.8 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 3914 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chanjuan Mao
    • 1
  • Hongjie Xie
    • 1
  • Shiguo Chen
    • 1
  • Bernal E. Valverde
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sheng Qiang
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Weed Research LaboratoryNanjing Agricultural UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.College of Life SciencesUniversity of CopenhagenTaastrupDenmark

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