biology, fire, Germination, karrikin, Plant, Plant hormone, Popular science, science, Seed, smoke
In response to my recent post about the dynamic life of plants, reader tmso asked about whether plants can sense and respond to smoke. I still haven’t found anything about an immediate response to smoke, but I’ve learned quite a bit about how smoke and fire affect germination. Many plants, especially in areas with a Mediterranean environment, are ‘fire followers’ that germinate after a fire has cleared the landscape. Some of them have seeds coated with flammable oils which release a lot of heat when they burn, causing the seed to germinate. Other plants, though, don’t respond to the fire itself, but germinate and grow better in response to smoke. Over the past decade, we’ve started to understand how these plants sense smoke, though there’s still a lot discover. (Thanks for the question, tmso!) Continue reading
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