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Fighting weed resistance – how Steve Powles helped us get innovation back on track

About

  • Date

    05 September, 2018

About

Date

05 September, 2018

The American Chemistry Society (ACS) National Meeting that took place in Boston, USA, on August 19-23 offers scientists a platform to present new multidisciplinary research, hear the latest news, and network with colleagues. Some 11,000 – 13,000 scientists from all over the world attended the meeting, which Bayer naturally couldn’t miss. But Bayer’s experts did not simply attend the meeting; Stefan Lehr (Weed Control Chemistry), Roland Beffa (Team Lead Weed Resistance Research) and the newly hired Anita Kuepper (Team Lead Weed Resistance Research II) also gave presentations. What’s more, many of the other presenters were acknowledged industry experts Bayer has either collaborated with on joint projects or who have even spent time working at the WRCC in Frankfurt.
Steve Powels receiving his Award. Picture Courtesy of Todd Gains Twitter: @Gaines_ToddA 
Another highlight of the event was the award ceremony where Anita Kuepper received the ACS AGRO division 2018 Education Award and Steve Powles was honored with the 2018 Award for Research in Agrochemicals. To explain why Steve Powles plays such an important role for us at Bayer here’s an extract from Stefan Lehrs’ presentation on “Weed Control Research”: 

When Steve Powles visited us for the first time in 2009, the most immediate impact he had on Bayer was to help us realize that herbicide resistance had turned the corner from being a nuisance to a real threat to farmers.

He was constantly reminding us of the impact weed resistance was having in Australia and beyond, and telling us to keep innovating in herbicides to provide diverse weed control solutions for the future. His stellar reputation, diverse, innovative and productive research program, numerous publications, and especially his ability to deliver his message personally in a convincing manner backed with sound facts were instrumental. After all, he is a farmer himself. His message was that the resistance phenomena playing out at the time in the Americas and elsewhere represented opportunities for our company ­– if we seized the moment and did a few more things besides the obvious. His contacts with the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) of Australia led to Bayer instituting the Herbicide Innovation Partnership. The GRDC’s support has increased the number of researchers searching for new herbicides and new modes of action in Frankfurt. Bayer also heeded his recommendation to increase non-chemical measures in our integrated weed management programs in order to better protect their sustainability.

In 2014, the Weed Resistance Competence Center (WRCC) was inaugurated with the mission to investigate resistance evolution and mechanisms, develop tailored solutions, and communicate the value of implementing truly integrated weed management systems. We have also benefitted from our research partnership with Steve and his program at Western Australia University. This work has contributed to his long-term quest for identifying the genes responsible for the enhanced metabolism of certain herbicides that confer resistance in certain weed populations.

Our cooperative work resulted in the identification of a particular cytochrome P450 that confers metabolic resistance to both diclofop-methyl and chlorsulfuron in Lolium rigidum. At long last, his quest has borne the results for which he has been searching for a long time. Along the way he has developed into a consistent collaborator and challenger for Bayer, and has made many acquaintances and indeed friends at Bayer. We are honored to be able to participate in this tribute to this great man and good friend.


 
Group picture at the ACS meeting (2nd row from left): Marcelo Figueiredo (Colorado State University), Satoshi Iwakami (University of Kyoto), Chris Preston (University of Adelaide), Paul Neve (Rothamsted Research), Roland Beffa, Stefan Lehr, Pat Tranel (University of Illinois), Anita Küpper

First row: Nilda Burgos (University of Arkansas), Steve Duke (USDA), Steve Powles (AHRI, University of Western Australia), Mike Owen (Iowa State University), Todd Gaines (Colorado State University), Rob Edwards (Newcastle University)

About

Date

05 September, 2018