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New Phytol. 2007;175(1):166-75.

Wide geographical and ecological distribution of nitrogen and carbon gains from fungi in pyroloids and monotropoids (Ericaceae) and in orchids.

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  • 1Labor für Isotopen-Biogeochemie, Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research, Universität Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany.

Abstract

* Stable isotope abundance analyses recently revealed that some European green orchids and pyroloids (Ericaceae) are partially myco-heterotrophic, exploiting mycorrhizal fungi for organic carbon and nitrogen. Here we investigate related species to assess their nutritional mode across various forest and climate types in Germany and California. * C- and N-isotope signatures of five green pyroloids, three green orchids and several obligate myco-heterotrophic species (including the putatively fully myco-heterotrophic Pyrola aphylla) were analysed to quantify the green plants' nutrient gain from their fungal partners and to investigate the constancy of enrichment in (13)C and (15)N of fully myco-heterotrophic plants from diverse taxa and locations relative to neighbouring autotrophic plants. * All green pyroloid and one orchid species showed significant (15)N enrichment, confirming incorporation of fungi-derived N compounds while heterotrophic C gain was detected only under low irradiance in Orthilia secunda. Pyrola aphylla had an isotope signature equivalent to those of fully myco-heterotrophic plants. * It is demonstrated that primarily N gain from mycorrhizal fungi occurred in all taxonomic groups investigated across a wide range of geographical and ecological contexts. The (13)C and (15)N enrichment of obligate myco-heterotrophic plants relative to accompanying autotrophic plants turned out as a fairly constant parameter.

PMID:
17547676
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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