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J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Jul 27;53(15):5936-42.

Formation of a seed germination promoter from carbohydrates and amino acids.

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Research Centre for Plant Growth and Development, School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg, Private Bag X01, Scottsville 3209, South Africa.


The ability of plant-derived smoke to act as a germination cue in many species has led to widespread interest in this aspect of seed biology. Recently, 3-methyl-2H-furo[2,3-c]pyran-2-one was identified as the main germination cue from smoke. Here, we report on the formation of this compound from reactions of sugars with amino acids. Heating proteins or amino acids with sugars at 180 degrees C for 30 min produces water soluble extracts that promote germination. High-performance liquid chromatography indicated that the active compound(s) derived from these reactions coeluted with the active fraction from a smoke solution. Gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy showed that the active constituent is identical to the germination cue from plant-derived smoke. The results presented in this paper provide evidence for the formation of the major germination cue found in smoke from ubiquitously occurring organic compounds.

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