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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Validation of a set of reference genes to study response to herbicide stress in grasses

Cécile Petit1, Fanny Pernin1, Jean-Marie Heydel2 and Christophe Délye1*

Author Affiliations

1 INRA, UMR1347 Agroécologie, 17 rue Sully, 21000 Dijon, France

2 UMR CSGA CNRS 6265 INRA 1324, Université de Bourgogne, AgroSup Dijon-uB, 21000 Dijon, France

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:18  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-18

Published: 10 January 2012



Non-target-site based resistance to herbicides is a major threat to the chemical control of agronomically noxious weeds. This adaptive trait is endowed by differences in the expression of a number of genes in plants that are resistant or sensitive to herbicides. Quantification of the expression of such genes requires normalising qPCR data using reference genes with stable expression in the system studied as internal standards. The aim of this study was to validate reference genes in Alopecurus myosuroides, a grass (Poaceae) weed of economic and agronomic importance with no genomic resources.


The stability of 11 candidate reference genes was assessed in plants resistant or sensitive to herbicides subjected or not to herbicide stress using the complementary statistical methods implemented by NormFinder, BestKeeper and geNorm. Ubiquitin, beta-tubulin and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase were identified as the best reference genes. The reference gene set accuracy was confirmed by analysing the expression of the gene encoding acetyl-coenzyme A carboxylase, a major herbicide target enzyme, and of an herbicide-induced gene encoding a glutathione-S-transferase.


This is the first study describing a set of reference genes (ubiquitin, beta-tubulin and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase) with a stable expression under herbicide stress in grasses. These genes are also candidate reference genes of choice for studies seeking to identify stress-responsive genes in grasses.