The key difference between glyphosate and glufosinate is that glyphosate is a synthetic compound, whereas glufosinate is a naturally occurring compound.
Both glyphosate and glufosinate are broad-spectrum herbicide compounds. These are organic compounds having closely similar structures. The two structures can be distinguished by observing the position of the -NH2- group attached to the carbon atoms. In other words, glyphosate has the -NH2- group at the 3rd position of the carbon chain while glufosinate contains the -NH2- group attached to the second carbon atom of the carbon chain.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Glyphosate
3. What is Glufosinate
4. Similarities Between Glyphosate and Glufosinate
5. Side by Side Comparison – Glyphosate vs Glufosinate in Tabular Form
What is Glyphosate?
Glyphosate is an organic compound having the chemical formula C3H8NO5P. It is a synthetic broad-spectrum herbicide and a crop desiccant. We can observe that this compound is an organophosphorus compound and specifically, a phosphonate. This substance can act by inhibiting some plant enzymes. We can use glyphosate to kill weeds, specifically broadleaf weeds and grasses because these weeds tend to compete with crops for their growth.
Glyphosate was discovered by a chemist, John E. Franz in 1970. This substance was brought into the market using the product name “Roundup”. At that time, farmers quickly adopted to this substance for agricultural weed control because agricultural companies introduced glyphosate-resistant Roundup Ready crops that let them kill weeds without killing any crops. For example, in 2007, glyphosate was the most used herbicide in the USA for the agricultural sector like farms, in home gardens, government and industry, and in other commercial applications.
Weeds tend to absorb glyphosate through their foliage and through roots minimally. Thereafter, this compound is transported to the growing points of the plant, and it can then inhibit the plant enzymes that are involved in plant growth. Mainly, this substance inhibits the production of three amino acids: tryptophan, tyrosine, and phenylalanine. Therefore, we can say that glyphosate is active on actively growing plants, but not effective as a pre-emergency herbicide. Moreover, we can observe that there are a number of plants that are genetically engineered to be resistant to glyphosate.
What is Glufosinate?
Glufosinate is an organic compound having the chemical formula C5H12NO4P. It is a naturally occurring broad-spectrum herbicide. We can observe this compound produced in bacterial species such as Streptomyces soil bacteria. It is a non-selective contact herbicide that has some systemic actions. Moreover, some plants can metabolize bialaphos (a naturally occurring herbicide) into glufosinate directly.
Glufosinate can irreversibly inhibit the synthesis of glutamine. It is an enzyme that is necessary for the production of glutamine and ammonia detoxification. Plant death in the presence of glufosinate occurs due to the reduction of the glutamine levels in plants by glufosinate, followed by the elevated ammonia levels in plant tissues which can halt photosynthesis and eventually kill the plant.
What are the Similarities Between Glyphosate and Glufosinate?
- Both are broad-spectrum herbicide agents.
- They contain closely similar chemical structures, which only differ due to the attachment of the -NH2-group to the carbon chain.
- Both contain carboxylic acid functional groups and amine groups
What is the Difference Between Glyphosate and Glufosinate
Glyphosate and glufosinate are organic compounds that are important as herbicide agents. The key difference between glyphosate and glufosinate is that glyphosate is a synthetic compound, whereas glufosinate is a naturally occurring compound. Glyphosate and glufosinate have closely similar chemical structures; however, the difference between glyphosate and glufosinate can be identified by observing the position of the -NH2- group attached to the carbon atoms. In glyphosate, an amine group is present in the third position of the carbon chain while in glufosinate, an amine group is attached to the second carbon atom of the carbon chain.
Below infographic lists the main differences between glyphosate and glufosinate in tabular form.
Summary – Glyphosate vs Glufosinate
Glyphosate and glufosinate have closely similar chemical structures and similar chemical composition. The key difference between glyphosate and glufosinate is that glyphosate is a synthetic compound, whereas glufosinate is a naturally occurring compound.
1. “Glyphosate.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Available here.