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Shootlessness, Velamentous Roots, and the Pre-Eminence of Orchidaceae in the Epiphytic Biotope

D. H. Benzing, W. E. Friedman, G. Peterson and A. Renfrow
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 70, No. 1 (Jan., 1983), pp. 121-133
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2443212
Page Count: 13
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Shootlessness, Velamentous Roots, and the Pre-Eminence of Orchidaceae in the Epiphytic Biotope
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Abstract

Roots of representative epiphytic orchids were examined for anatomical detail, desiccation resistance and evidence of CAM activity. Those "shootless" taxa examined (Carnpylocentrum pachyrrhizurn (Reichenb. f.) Rolfe, Harrisella porrecta Reichenb. f.) Fawc. & Rendle, and Polyradicion lindenii (Lindl.) Cogn. ex Urban) and a semi shootless type (Kingidium taeniale (Lindl.) P. F. Hunt) bear thinner or eroded velamina and greater volumes of cortical intercellular space than do those of the leafy forms tested (Campylocentrurn sellowii (Reichenb. f.) Rolfe, Encyclia tampensis (Lindl.) Small, Epidendrurn radicans Pavon ex Lindl., Phalaenopsis amabilis (L.) Blume, Rangaeris arnaniensis (Krzl.) Summerhayes and Vanda parishii (Reichenb. f.)). Shootless species also bear a more elaborate aeration apparatus at the velamen-cortex interface. Structurally distinct cortical cells located in this region may regulate gas exchange across the exodermis. Velamen thickness varies greatly among the ten species, as does the development of outer tangential walls of U cells in the underlying exodermis. Desiccation resistance under laboratory conditions was more closely related to root surface-to-volume ratio (S/V) than to any other measured anatomical parameter, including velamen development. Modes of carbon gain and the possible pathway for movement of fungus-borne carbon into an orchid's pool of assimilates are described, as is the possible significance of these processes to survival in forest canopy habitats.

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