Mycorrhizal fungi affect orchid distribution and population dynamics.

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Mycorrhizal fungi affect orchid distribution and population dynamics.

New Phytol. 2018 May 23;:

Authors: McCormick MK, Whigham DF, Canchani-Viruet A

Symbioses are ubiquitous in nature and influence individual plants and populations. Orchids have life history stages that depend fully or partially on fungi for carbon and other essential resources. As a result, orchid populations depend on the distribution of orchid mycorrhizal fungi (OMFs). We focused on evidence that local-scale distribution and population dynamics of orchids can be limited by the patchy distribution and abundance of OMFs, after an update of an earlier review confirmed that orchids are rarely limited by OMF distribution at geographic scales. Recent evidence points to a relationship between OMF abundance and orchid density and dormancy, which results in apparent density differences. Orchids were more abundant, less likely to enter dormancy, and more likely to re-emerge when OMF were abundant. We highlight the need for additional studies on OMF quantity, more emphasis on tropical species, and development and application of next-generation sequencing techniques to quantify OMF abundance in substrates and determine their function in association with orchids. Research is also needed to distinguish between OMFs and endophytic fungi and to determine the function of nonmycorrhizal endophytes in orchid roots. These studies will be especially important if we are to link orchids and OMFs in efforts to inform conservation.

PMID: 29790578 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

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