Agron. Sustain. Dev.
Volume 29, Number 2, April-June 2009
Page(s) 313 - 319
Published online 18 October 2008
Agron. Sustain. Dev. 29 (2009) 313-319
DOI: 10.1051/agro:2008048

Festuca arundinacea grass and herbicide safeners to prevent herbicide pollution

Luciano Scarponi, Daniele Del Buono, Elisa Quagliarini and Roberto D'Amato

Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie e Ambientali, Università degli Studi di Perugia, Borgo XX Giugno 72, 06121 Perugia, Italy

Accepted 30 July 2008; published online 18 October 2008

Abstract - Buffer strips are uncultivated zones left along the boundaries of crops. Buffer strips are used to eliminate or reduce the environmental impact of herbicides. As the efficiency of buffer strips is improved by the presence of non-crop vegetation, we studied the possible role of growing the perennial grass Festuca arundinacea. We investigated the activity in festuca of glutathione S-transferase (GST), which is an enzyme very active in metabolising herbicides. Our results evidence GST activity, which is enhanced by the following compounds: benoxacor, cloquintocet-mexyl, fenchlorazol-ethyl, fenclorim, fluxofenim and oxabetrinil. These synthetic compounds are named herbicide safeners because they protect crop plants against injury from some herbicides without reducing the action of herbicides against the target weeds. The increases in GST activity were found to be concomitant with changes in V$_{\max}$ and K$_{\rm M}$, that are kinetic constants related directly to the enzyme concentration in the protein “pull” and inversely to the substrate–enzyme affinity, respectively. In particular, V$_{\max}$ increase with K$_{\rm M}$ decrease was observed in response to benoxacor, V$_{\max}$ increases were found in response to fenchlorazol-ethyl, fenclorim, fluxofenim and oxabetrinil, and K$_{\rm M}$ decrease was observed in response to cloquintocet-mexyl. The GST activity was also found to be enhanced by the safeners when it was tested toward the herbicides terbuthylazine and butachlor as substrates. In particular, the increases in GST toward terbuthylazine ranged in the following decreasing order: 154.6%, 91.7%, 89.2%, 88.3%, 82.5% and 30.8% in response to fluxofenim, fenchlorazol-ethyl, fenclorim, oxabetrinil, benoxacor and cloquintocet-mexyl, respectively. The increases in GST toward butachlor ranged in the following decreasing order: 77.0%, 71.2% 59.0%, 41.0% and 33.1% in response to oxabetrinil, benoxacor, fenclorim, fluxofenim and fenchlorazol-ethyl, respectively. A further test, performed to evaluate the relevance of the above effects on a macro-scale level, evidenced 10.1% and 32.7% increased amounts of metabolised terbuthylazine and butachlor, respectively, in response to the addition of benoxacor safener to the herbicide treatments. These results indicate that herbicide diffusion following the runoff of surface waters can be prevented or significantly reduced by vegetating buffer strips with festuca and by the combination of herbicide and a suitable safener.

Key words: Festuca arundinacea / glutathione S-transferase / terbuthylazine / butachlor / safeners / detoxification / buffer strips

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© INRA, EDP Sciences 2008