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I use Halosulfuron-methyl to control yellow and purple nutsedge in lawns. This chemical acts by interfering with the acetolactate synthase enzyme, which quickly slows cell division, and growth at all points.

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How does this work without also interfering with enzymes in the lawn grass?

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@DevashishDas The paper does not seem to be relevant in answering this question. – March Ho Jan 28 '15 at 13:46
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Halosulfuron-methyl is a member of the family of sulfonylurea herbicides. Brown (2006) mentions in his abstract the following, and I quote:

This class of herbicides acts through inhibition of acetolactate synthase [...], thereby blocking the biosynthesis of the branched-chain amino acids valine, leucine and isoleucine. This inhibition leads to the rapid cessation of plant cell division and growth. [...] Crop selectivity results from rapid metabolic inactivation of the herbicide in the tolerant crop. Under growth-room conditions, metabolic half-lives in tolerant crop plants range from 1–5 h, while sensitive plant species metabolize these herbicides much more slowly, with half-lives > 20 h. Pathways by which sulfonylurea herbicides are inactivated among these plants include aryl and aliphatic hydroxylation followed by glucose conjugation, sulfonylurea bridge hydrolysis and sulfonamide bond cleavage, oxidative O-demethylation and direct conjugation with (homo)glutathione.

Hence, metabolic inactivation activity differs between susceptible and insusceptible species. To get to your question: this means that the enzymes in lawn grass are also inhibited, but to a lesser extent, as the herbicide is metabolized and inactivated more rapidly in grasses.

Brown, Pesticide Science 2006;29:241–378

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