The chemistry of the spring season is essentially a story about flowers. While animals (and humans) tend to hibernate during the winter, plants and flowers are unable to move away from the elements.
To survive the harsh temperatures, they have to time their processes perfectly to survive. If they bloom too early, reproduction may not be successful.
So what controls that timing? Epigenetic regulation.
This process chemically modifies the DNA and proteins in plant without changing it. It’s basically like a bookmark in the DNA book telling the flowers which pages to read and when.
Researchers at the Institute of Basic Science focused on the ninth HDAC protein when studying spring processes. This protein regulates several biological processes including flowering time, and seed dormancy. Plants lacking the HDAC protein bloomed earlier with larger fruits.
Daffodils, magnolias, Bradford pears and cherry blossoms are some of the earliest bloomers in spring. Roses may wait until early May before sharing their beauty with the world.
Chemistry is also to thank for those beautiful colors. The pigment molecules that determine color change in fall leaves – carotenoids and anthocyanins – also give flowers the colors you see.
Chemistry evens contributes to the wonderful aroma. Check out this illustration to discover which compounds create the smell of your favorite flowers.