If a forest fire destroys larger plants, seeds of so called fire-followers see their chance: these have a receptor protein that can "smell" certain molecules generated in smoke of burnt plant material, so-called karrikins. The receptor protein called KAI2 sets off a signal cascade causing the seeds to germinate.
A team of researchers led by Caroline Gutjahr, professor for plant genetics at the TUM School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan, has now discovered that it also plays an important role in regulating the growth of roots.
Surface - Area - Water - Nutrients - Roots
To achieve a large surface area through which water and nutrients can be absorbed, the roots of plants grow fine root hairs. José Antonio Villaécija-Aguilar, a Ph. D. student in Caroline Gutjahr's team, has now made the discovery that KAI2 is both necessary for the growth of this root hair and for the downward growth of roots.
"It is likely that this not only applies to the thale cress (Arabidopsis), which can be found almost everywhere in the world and is used by us as a model plant," Caroline Gutjahr says, "but possibly also for many other plants, for...
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