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Ann Bot. 2010 Oct;106(4):573-81. doi: 10.1093/aob/mcq156. Epub 2010 Aug 4.

Mycoheterotrophy evolved from mixotrophic ancestors: evidence in Cymbidium (Orchidaceae).

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1
Tsukuba Botanical Garden, National Museum of Nature and Science, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND AIMS:

Nutritional changes associated with the evolution of achlorophyllous, mycoheterotrophic plants have not previously been inferred with robust phylogenetic hypotheses. Variations in heterotrophy in accordance with the evolution of leaflessness were examined using a chlorophyllous-achlorophyllous species pair in Cymbidium (Orchidaceae), within a well studied phylogenetic background.

METHODS:

To estimate the level of mycoheterotrophy in chlorophyllous and achlorophyllous Cymbidium, natural (13)C and (15)N contents (a proxy for the level of heterotrophy) were measured in four Cymbidium species and co-existing autotrophic and mycoheterotrophic plants and ectomycorrhizal fungi from two Japanese sites.

KEY RESULTS:

δ(13)C and δ(15)N values of the achlorophyllous C. macrorhizon and C. aberrans indicated that they are full mycoheterotrophs. δ(13)C and δ(15)N values of the chlorophyllous C. lancifolium and C. goeringii were intermediate between those of reference autotrophic and mycoheterotrophic plants; thus, they probably gain 30-50 % of their carbon resources from fungi. These data suggest that some chlorophyllous Cymbidium exhibit partial mycoheterotrophy (= mixotrophy).

CONCLUSIONS:

It is demonstrated for the first time that mycoheterotrophy evolved after the establishment of mixotrophy rather than through direct shifts from autotrophy to mycoheterotrophy. This may be one of the principal patterns in the evolution of mycoheterotrophy. The results also suggest that the establishment of symbiosis with ectomycorrhizal fungi in the lineage leading to mixotrophic Cymbidium served as pre-adaptation to the evolution of the mycoheterotrophic species. Similar processes of nutritional innovations probably occurred in several independent orchid groups, allowing niche expansion and radiation in Orchidaceae, probably the largest plant family.

PMID:
20685727
PMCID:
PMC2944979
DOI:
10.1093/aob/mcq156
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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