University of Toronto
Herbicide-resistant weeds are a growing threat to global food security and to the livelihood of millions of farmers. At issue are the evolutionary characteristics that allow some weed species to rapidly evolve so that the “fittest” survive, regardless of the herbicide used.
Dr. Stephen I. Wright is recognized as one of the world’s most influential scientists in the emerging field of evolutionary genomics. His research has provided unprecedented insights into the structure, function and evolution of plant genomes—knowledge he is currently using to understand how weeds become resistant to herbicides.
Wright and his team have provided the first solid molecular evidence to support a theory biologists have long promoted: species that reproduce sexually (by exchanging genetic material), rather than asexually or via self-fertilization, are healthier over time. The results suggest that many important crop species are more likely to go extinct in the face of environmental change.
Wright’s resources and methods are now widely used in both basic and applied research.