Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

American Journal of Plant Physiology


Geisel School of Medicine


With a leaf disc assay, 11 species were tested for effects of the herbicide acifluorfen on porphyrin accumulation in darkness and subsequent electrolyte leakage and photobleaching of chlorophyll after exposure to light. Protoporphyrin IX (Proto IX) was the only porphyrin that was substantially increased by the herbicide in any of the species. However, there was a wide range in the amount of Proto IX accumulation caused by 0.1 millimolar acifluorfen between species. Within species, there was a reduced effect of the herbicide in older tissues. Therefore, direct quantitative comparisons between species are difficult. Nevertheless, when data from different species and from tissues of different age within a species were plotted, there was a curvilinear relationship between the amount of Proto IX caused to accumulate during 20 hours of darkness and the amount of electrolyte leakage or chlorophyll photobleaching caused after 6 and 24 hours of light, respectively, following the dark period. Herbicidal damage plateaued at about 10 nanomoles of Proto IX per gram of fresh weight. Little difference was found between in vitro acifluorfen inhibition of protoporphyrinogen oxidase (Protox) of plastid preparations of mustard, cucumber, and morning glory, three species with large differences in their susceptibility at the tissue level. Mustard, a highly tolerant species, produced little Proto IX in response to the herbicide, despite having a highly susceptible Protox. Acifluorfen blocked carbon flow from δ-aminolevulinic acid to protochlorophyllide in mustard, indicating that it inhibits Protox in vivo. Increasing δ-aminolevulinic acid concentrations (33-333 micromolar) supplied to mustard with 0.1 millimolar acifluorfen increased Proto IX accumulation and herbicidal activity, demonstrating that mustard sensitivity to Proto IX was similar to other species. Differential susceptibility to acifluorfen of the species examined in this study appears to be due in large part to differences in Proto IX accumulation in response to the herbicide. In some cases, differences in Proto IX accumulation appear to be due to differences in activity of the porphyrin pathway.



Original Citation

Sherman TD, Becerril JM, Matsumoto H, et al. Physiological basis for differential sensitivities of plant species to protoporphyrinogen oxidase-inhibiting herbicides. Plant Physiol. 1991;97(1):280-287. doi:10.1104/pp.97.1.280