Smoke Chemical That Causes Seed Germination Found

Lee Poulsen
Fri, 09 Jul 2004 00:25:15 PDT
So when and where can we buy some of this chemical?

--Lee Poulsen
Pasadena area, California, USDA Zone 9-10

Smoke Chemical That Causes Seed Germination Found
  Fri July 09, 2004 02:11 AM ET

  SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian scientists have identified the chemical  
in smoke that makes plant seeds germinate after bushfires, a discovery  
that could reap huge benefits for the agricultural sector.

  A team of Australian scientists has become the world's first research  
team to pinpoint the previously unknown chemical, called a butenolide,  
which induces germination in a range of plant species including celery,  
parsley and echinacea.

  "This discovery represents one of the most significant advances in  
seed science with benefits in the natural, agricultural, conservation  
and restoration sciences," said Geoff Gallup, science minister in  
Western Australia state, on Friday.

  Scientists say the discovery could give farmers a multi-million dollar  
edge in weed control by allowing them to speed up the germination of  
dormant seeds.

  "With further testing, this could help farmers who want to control  
crop weeds, without having to wait so long for the seeds to germinate  
again before being eradicated," said Kingsley Dixon, the scientist who  
directed the Western Australian study.

  The findings could also lead to improved bush regeneration and  
conservation policies, scientists said.

  Researchers around the world first became interested in identifying  
the chemical in smoke that caused seed germination when a team of South  
African botanists proved 15 years ago that it was bush smoke, not heat  
and ash, that caused plants to seed.

© Reuters  2004. All rights reserved.

Smoke compound discovery may revolutionise agriculture - 

  Scientists in Western Australia have discovered a chemical compound in  
smoke that could revolutionise agriculture.

Kingsley Dixon and a team from the Kings Park and Botanic Gardens in  
Perth says the compound help seeds to germinate.

And it'll be as important for home gardeners as it will for Landcare  
groups and the farm sector.

"We've looked at a couple of vegetable crop species, for example, and  
got up to doubling of germination in some of these species: for  
example, celery, parsley, lettuce; and we've even got Echinacea, the  
one that's used to make cough medicines; we've increased its  
germination by almost double just using this smoke chemical."

"So with further research, which we're wanting to do, we think there's  
potentially some benefits across a number of key agricultural sectors."

This is a transcript from the ABC National Rural News that is broadcast  
daily to all states on ABC Regional Radio's Country Hour and in the  
city on ABC News Radio.

©2004 ABC

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