Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide, inhibits 5-enol-pyruvyl shikimate 3-phophate synthase (EPSPS), an enzyme found in plants, fungi, and bacteria. Plants engineered for glyphosate tolerance with a glyphosate-insensitive EPSPS take up and translocate the herbicide throughout the plant. In greenhouse experiments, we found that application of glyphosate at the recommended field application rate completely controlled alfalfa rust (Uromyces striatus) on 4-week-old plants inoculated with the fungus 3 days after glyphosate treatment. Control was effective in all seven cultivars tested. The level of protection declined with time after application, indicating that control transitory and protection declined with time after inoculation, suggesting that protective treatments have fungistatic activity. Complete control of rust was obtained when glyphosate was applied up to 10 days after inoculation with rust spores, indicating that the herbicide also has curative activity. Treatment increased protection from anthracnose, caused by Colletotrichum trifolii, a hemibiotrophic pathogen, and reduced symptom severity for spring black stem and leaf spot, caused by Phoma medicaginis, a necrotrophic pathogen. These results indicate that glyphosate could be used to help manage foliar diseases in glyphosate-tolerant alfalfa.
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