Scott McElroy

Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences faculty

Turfgrass/Weed Science
Selected Publications   Google Scholar Profile


2003 Ph.D., NC State University (Crop Science)
2000 M.S., Auburn University (Agronomy and Soils)
1998 B.S., Auburn University (Communication)

Professional Activities:

My research program has two major focuses:  1) evaluation of herbicides for use in turfgrass management, and, 2) weed genomics and herbicide resistance.  Synthetic herbicides are the most widely used method of weed control in turfgrass management.  New herbicides are being developed to replace older herbicides that have problems with environmental, human, and other non-target toxicity.  New herbicide chemistries have lower active ingredient use rates per area, are more targeted toward plant physiology, and have less chance of non-target contamination.  In general, I conduct research evaluating turfgrass species tolerance and effectiveness of herbicides in controlling major weeds in Alabama.  One specific research focus is controlling annual bluegrass in golf course turfgrass.  Annual bluegrass is one of the most problematic weeds in golf course turf, reducing aesthetic quality and playability.  New herbicides currently being tested could reduce triazine herbicide (atrazine, simazine) use, materials which have been implicated in amphibian reproductive malformations.  Also, research is focused on control of bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon).  Bermudagrass, while an excellent turfgrass species, is also one of the state’s worst weeds in turfgrass and agriculture in general.  Bermudagrass control is difficult because few selective herbicides are available and control can take up to two to three years.  My research has focused on new chemical control measures for bermudagrass, alternative soil sterilization techniques, and the influence of non-chemical management practices. 

The second focus of my research program is on weed genomics, specifically focusing on sequencing and assembling genes associated with herbicide resistance.  Identifying nucleic acid mutations and subsequent amino acid substitutions in herbicide target enzymes is a key component in herbicide resistance management.  Target-site amino acid substitutions can be correlated to various cross-resistance scenarios within herbicide families or modes of action.  In recent years, my lab has begun using next generation sequence (NGS), also referred to as massively parallel sequencing to avoid the many pitfalls of traditional PCR to sequencing approaches.  NGS using the Illumina platform sequences millions of nucleic acid sections, or reads, simultaneously leading to billions of sequenced bases in one sequencing run.  Sequencing reads of 100 to 200 base pair lengths can then be assembled using computational methods to form contiguous sequences, or contigs.  Since weed species are non-model organisms, most with no reference assemblies of key genes, my NGS approach provides a fast approach to resistance mechanism identification.  My lab has current collaborative projects with Clemson, Arkansas, and Georgia faculty to identify molecular mechanisms of resistance in weed species.

Major Lab Equipment:

We have recently added an entire suite of research equipment available for both physiology and molecular biology research.

Advanced computer workstation including CLC Genomic Workbench for Next Gen Sequencing Analysis

  • StepOnePlus quantitative PCR system
  • Eppendorf Thermal Cycler
  • Standard DNA/RNA extraction equipment
  • Standard nucleic acid electrophoresis equipment
  • Licor 6400 Infrared Gas Analyzer with chlorophyll fluorescence
  • Chlorophyll Fluorescence Imaging System
  • Two portable fluorescence systems
  • Thermo Micropure Water Sterilization
  • Spectrophotoradiometer equipment
  • Licor light meter

Photo of weed physiology sign


Professional Experience:

2014-present Professor, Auburn University, Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences
2008-2014 Assistant Professor, Auburn University, Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences
2003-2007 Assistant Professor, University of Tennessee, Plant Sciences
2001-2003 Graduate Research Assistant, NC State University, Crop Sciences
1998-2000 Graduate Research Assistant, Auburn University, Agronomy & Soils

Adjunct Appointments:

2012-present Associate Professor College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences


  • Outstanding Faculty Member Award for the College of Agriculture, Selected by the Auburn University Student Government Association, 2013
  • Outstanding Instructor in Department of Agronomy and Soils, Selected by the Undergraduate Agronomy Club, Auburn University, 2013
  • Outstanding Early Career Weed Scientist, Weed Science Society of America, Baltimore, MD, 2013
  • Outstanding Young Weed Scientist, Southern Weed Science Society, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 2011
  • Director’s Research Award for Junior Faculty, Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, Auburn University, 2009
  • Outstanding Instructor in the Department of Agronomy and Soils, Selected by the Undergraduate Agronomy Club, Auburn University, 2009, 2013

Elected Offices:

2012-2016 Executive board member — European Turfgrass Society (International)
2014-1016 Executive board member — Southern Weed Science Society

Current Graduate Students:

  • Philipe Aldahir, PhD, Projected completion May 2015

  • Shu Chen, PhD, Projected completion May 2015

  • Hui Zhang, PhD, Projected completion December 2017

  • William Head, MS, Projected Completion December 2016

Former Students:

Jared Hoyle, Ph.D., Agronomy and Soils (Auburn University), 2012
Currently Assistant Professor, Kansas State University

Hunter Perry, PhD, Agronomy and Soils (Auburn University), 2011
Currently Research and Development Scientist, Dow AgroSciences, Indianapolis, IN

Mark Doroh, M.S., Agronomy and Soils (Auburn University), 2010
Currently Field Development Scientist, Syngenta, Auburn, AL

Michael Flessner, M.S. (2010), PhD (2014), Agronomy and Soils (Auburn University)
Currently Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Virginia Tech University

Dustin Lewis, M.S. Plant Sciences (University of Tennessee), 2009
Completed PhD at NC State University 2012
Currently Research and Development Scientist, BASF

Steven Borst, M.S., Plant Sciences (University of Tennessee), 2008
Completed PhD at Louisiana State University
Currently Global Compliance Manager, Alltech Crop Science

Matthew Cutulle, M.S., Plant Sciences (University of Tennessee), 2008
Completed PhD at Virginia Polytechnic and State University
Currently Research Scientist, Syngenta Corp, Vero Beach, FL

James McCurdy, M.S. Plant Sciences (University of Tennessee), 2008; PhD Agronomy and Soils (Auburn University), 2014
Currently Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Mississippi State University

Ethan Parker, M.S., Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences (Auburn), 2014
Pursuing PhD at The University of Tennessee

Caleb Bristow, M.S. (co-advised with Guertal), Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences (Auburn), 2012  
Executive Director, Alabama Peanut Producers


233B Funchess Hall
Auburn Univ, AL 36849