Smoke and Hormone Mirrors: Action and Evolution of Karrikin and Strigolactone Signaling

Trends Genet. 2016 Mar;32(3):176-188. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2016.01.002. Epub 2016 Feb 2.


Karrikins and strigolactones are two classes of butenolide molecules that have diverse effects on plant growth. Karrikins are found in smoke and strigolactones are plant hormones, yet both molecules are likely recognized through highly similar signaling mechanisms. Here we review the most recent discoveries of karrikin and strigolactone perception and signal transduction. Two paralogous α/β hydrolases, KAI2 and D14, are respectively karrikin and strigolactone receptors. D14 acts with an F-box protein, MAX2, to target SMXL/D53 family proteins for proteasomal degradation, and genetic data suggest that KAI2 acts similarly. There are striking parallels in the signaling mechanisms of karrikins, strigolactones, and other plant hormones, including auxins, jasmonates, and gibberellins. Recent investigations of host perception in parasitic plants have demonstrated that strigolactone recognition can evolve following gene duplication of KAI2.

Keywords: branching; germination; hormones; parasitism; proteolysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Furans / metabolism*
  • Lactones / metabolism*
  • Pyrans / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*


  • 3-methyl-2H-furo(2,3-c)pyran-2-one
  • Furans
  • Lactones
  • Pyrans