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Mycorrhiza. 2010 Aug;20(6):375-90. doi: 10.1007/s00572-009-0290-x. Epub 2010 Jan 7.

Taxonomic and functional characterisation of fungi from the Sebacina vermifera complex from common and rare orchids in the genus Caladenia.

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Department of Resource Management and Geography, University of Melbourne, Burnley Campus, Richmond, VIC 3121, Australia.


The terrestrial orchid genus Caladenia contains many species which are threatened with extinction. They have highly specific associations with Sebacina vermifera and closely related fungi, and conservation of these terrestrial orchids, in part, relies on symbiotic propagation to produce plants for reintroduction and ex situ conservation collections. However, little is known of the diversity of mycorrhizal fungi associating with natural populations. Here, restriction fragment polymorphism analysis, internal transcribed spacer and nuclear large subunit sequencing and symbiotic seed germination were used to investigate the taxonomic and functional diversity of fungal isolates from single populations of six endangered Caladenia species and one common species across the same biogeographic range. Fifty-nine fungal isolates were collected for investigation including ten isolates from the six endangered species Caladenia audasii, Caladenia amoena, Caladenia sp. aff. fragrantissima (Central Victoria), Caladenia sp. aff. patersonii, Caladenia rosella and Caladenia orientalis and 49 isolates from six populations of the common species Caladenia tentaculata. While the common species associated with three distinct S. vermifera-like taxa, the six endangered species were restricted to one of these fungal taxa. No direct relationship between the taxonomic identity of the fungi and their ability to stimulate seed germination was observed; however, the majority of the fungi isolated from the Caladenia species were capable of germinating seed in vitro, indicating their mycorrhizal status and potential for symbiotic propagation in conservation programmes.

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