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Evidence for Novel and Specialized Mycorrhizal Parasitism: The Orchid Gastrodia confusa Gains Carbon from Saprotrophic Mycena

Yuki Ogura-Tsujita, Gerhard Gebauer, Toshimasa Hashimoto, Hidetaka Umata and Tomohisa Yukawa
Proceedings: Biological Sciences
Vol. 276, No. 1657 (Feb. 22, 2009), pp. 761-767
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30244918
Page Count: 7
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Evidence for Novel and Specialized Mycorrhizal Parasitism: The Orchid Gastrodia confusa Gains Carbon from Saprotrophic Mycena
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Abstract

We investigated the physiological ecology of the Asian non-photosynthetic orchid Gastrodia confusa. We revealed its mycorrhizal partners by using molecular identification and identified its ultimate nutritional source by analysing carbon and nitrogen natural stable isotope abundances. Molecular identification using internal transcribed spacer and large subunit nrDNA sequences showed that G. confusa associates with several species of litter- and wood-decomposer Mycena fungi. The carbon and nitrogen isotope signatures of G. confusa were analysed together with photosynthetic plant reference samples and samples of the ectomycorrhizal epiparasite Monotropa uniflora. We found that G. confusa was highly enriched in $$^{13}C$$ but not greatly in $^{15}N$ , while M. uniflora was highly enriched in both $^{13}C$ and $^{15}N$ . The $^{13}C$ and $^{15}N$ signatures of G. confusa were the closest to those of the fruit bodies of saprotrophic fungi. Our results demonstrate for the first time using molecular and mass-spectrometric approaches that myco-heterotrophic plants gain carbon through parasitism of wood or litter decaying fungi. Furthermore, we demonstrate that, several otherwise free-living non-mycorrhizal, Mycena can be mycorrhizal partners of orchids.

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