Molecular aspects of the antagonistic interaction of smoke-derived butenolides on the germination process of Grand Rapids lettuce (Lactuca sativa) achenes

Vilmos Soós, Endre Sebestyén, Martin Posta, Ladislav Kohout, Marnie E. Light, Johannes Van Staden, Ervin Balázs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)


Smoke-derived compounds provide a strong chemical signal to seeds in the soil seed bank, allowing them to take advantage of the germination niche created by the occurrence of fire. The germination stimulatory activity of smoke can largely be attributed to karrikinolide (KAR1), while a related compound, trimethylbutenolide (TMB), has been shown to have an inhibitory effect on germination. The aim of this study was to characterize the interaction of these potent fire-generated compounds. Dose-response analysis, leaching tests and a detailed transcriptome study were performed using highly KAR1-sensitive lettuce (Lactuca sativa cv 'Grand Rapids') achenes. Dose-response analysis demonstrated that the compounds are not competitors and TMB modulates germination in a concentration-dependent manner. The transcriptome analysis revealed a contrasting expression pattern induced by the compounds. KAR1 suppressed, while TMB up-regulated ABA, seed maturation and dormancy-related transcripts. The effect of TMB was reversed by leaching the compound, while the KAR1 effect was only reversible by leaching within the first 2 h of KAR1 treatment. Our findings suggest that the compounds may act in concert for germination-related signaling. After the occurrence of fire, sufficient rainfall would contribute to post-germination seedling recruitment by reducing the concentration of the inhibitory compound.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1060-1073
Number of pages14
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2012



  • Abscisic acid
  • Fire
  • Germination
  • Karrikinolide
  • Lactuca sativa
  • Smoke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science

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