C4 plant selective herbicide - New approach to combat C4 weeds in arable crops

Ref.-Nr. 3025

Keywords: C4, herbicide, selective, weed, crop, rice, wheat, black-grass, Alopecurus, Echinochloa, Gallium, resistance, small molecules

Weed infestations cause considerable crop yield losses worldwide. C4 weeds like Black-Grass, Cleavers, Green foxtail, Kochia and Barnyard Grass reduce yields of important C3 cereals such as rice, wheat, barley and oat. For example, Barnyard Grass, the most important weed species in rice, which is now found in over 60 countries ranging from North America to South Asia provokes yield losses of up to 70 %. Similarly, Black-Grass has become a severe threat for global food production causing yield losses of 5 to 50 % already in Western Europe. Besides, the resistance to existing herbicides is increasing - provoking the need for alternative weed killers. Selective herbicides against C4 plants would be of outmost importance for the agribusiness and a major turning point in the control of the worst weeds in the world. Scientists of the Heinrich Heine University Duesseldorf succeeded in finding a sophisticated way to sustainably and selectively inhibit C4 type phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP) carboxylase, an enzyme that has an important role in CO2 fixation and exists in all variants of C4 metabolism. In contrast to existing approaches the small molecules regarding the present invention do not bind to C3 type PEP carboxylases although these enzymes show sequence identity of up to 95% with the C4 enzyme. Hence they do not affect the C3 metabolism. Consequently, C3 plants prosper well, C4 plants do not.


  • Highly C4 plant selective herbicide
  • The metabolism of C4 plants is impaired whereas C3 plants are not affected
  • Low resistance risk by inhibiting an important enzyme of the CO2 fixation process
  • Herbicide of a new class kills weeds resistant to traditional herbicides

Kommerzielle Anwendung

The present invention provides compounds being capable of binding selectively to a specific site of PEP carboxylases from a C4 plant and thereby inhibiting this enzyme. On behalf of the Heinrich Heine University Duesseldorf, PROvendis offers access to rights for commercial use as well as the opportunity for further co-development.

Aktueller Stand

In case of interest we are pleased to inform you about the current patent status.

Relevante Veröffentlichungen

Paulus, J.K., et al. (2014) Direct and selective small-molecule inhibition of photosynthetic PEP carboxylase: New approach to combat C4 weeds in arable crops. FEBS Letters 588: 2101-6.

Nguyen, G.T., et al. (2016) Chalcone-based Selective Inhibitors of a C4 Plant Key Enzyme as Novel Potential Herbicides. Sci. Rep. 6: 27333.

Eine Erfindung der HHU Düsseldorf.

Dr. Constanze Vogel
+49 208 9410541