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Fire-proneness as a prerequisite for the evolution of fire-adapted traits

Lamont, B.B. and He, T.ORCID: 0000-0002-0924-3637 (2017) Fire-proneness as a prerequisite for the evolution of fire-adapted traits. Trends in Plant Science, 22 (4). pp. 278-288.

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Fire as a major evolutionary force has been disputed because it is considered to lack supporting evidence. If a trait has evolved in response to selection by fire then the environment of the plant must have been fire-prone before the appearance of that trait. Using outcomes of trait assignments applied to molecular phylogenies for fire-stimulated flowering, seed-release, and germination, in this Opinion article we show that fire-proneness precedes, or rarely coincides with, the evolution of these fire-adapted traits. In addition, fire remains central to understanding germination promoted by smoke among species occurring in non-fire-prone environments because of the historical association of their clade with fire. Fire-mimicking selection and associated exaptations have no place in understanding the evolution of fire-adapted traits because we find no support for any reversal in the fire–trait sequence through time.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Elsevier Ltd
Copyright: © 2016
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