An Altered aroA Gene Product Confers Resistance to the Herbicide Glyphosate

Science. 1983 Jul 22;221(4608):370-1. doi: 10.1126/science.221.4608.370.


The hypothesis that the herbicide glyphosate (N-phosphonomethylglycine) acts on plants and microorganisms by inhibiting synthesis of 5-enolpyruvyl-3-phosphoshikimate, a precursor to aromatic amino acids, was tested. Salmonella typhimurium was treated with ethyl methanesulfonate, and mutants mapping at the aroA locus, which encodes 5-enolpyruvyl-3-phosphoshikimate synthetase, were isolated by selection for glyphosate resistance. One of the mutants results in the synthesis of a 5-enolpyruvyl-3-phosphoshikimate synthetase that is resistant to inhibition by glyphosate. The mutant aroA gene and the corresponding wild-type allele were cloned. The mutation confers high resistance to glyphosate when introduced in Escherichia coli in the presence or absence of the wild-type aroA allele.