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How Burning Plants Signal Future Generations to Grow
Previous studies have reported that chemicals known as karrikins are created as trees and shrubs burn during a forest fire and remain in the soil after the fire, ensuring the forest will regenerate. In the April 23 early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), scientists at the Salk Institute and the University of California, San Diego, sought to uncover exactly how karrikins stimulate new plant growth.
The researchers found that a plant protein know as KAI2 binds to karrikin in dormant seeds, changing its shape. This karrikin-induced shape change may send a new signal to other proteins in the seeds causing seed germination when the time is right, after a forest fire.