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Abstract Detail


Hynson, Nicole A. [1], Bidartondo, Martin I. [2], Read, David J. [3].

Mycorrhizal specificity can lead to ecophysiological plasticity in plants living off fungi.

Many symbiotic interactions are specific where hosts and symbionts fine-tune their physiologies to receive the most benefit from their partners. Fully mycoheterotrophic plants that have lost the ability to photosynthesize and rely completely on symbiotic interactions with fungi to meet all of their carbon and nutrient demands have been touted as prime examples of mycorrhizal specialists. However, the question remains whether this fine-scale fungal partner specialization among mycoheterotrophs leads to the fixation of traits that also increase plant fitness, or if mycorrhizal specificity is an evolutionary dead end. To address this question we focus on partial mycoheterotrophy – the ability of plants to meet a portion of their carbon demands via symbiotic fungi, and fungal partner specificity as forms of local adaptation. Local adaptation is a concept used to describe how species allocate resources in order to survive in their environments. Here, using DNA sequencing and the analysis of carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes we examine the fungal partnerships and ecophysiology of a putatively partially mycoheterotrophic species Moneses uniflora (Ericaceae), across two continents. We reveal that while this species remains highly specific in its mycorrhizal partnerships across a large portion of its natural range, its ability to derive carbon from similar fungi varies among populations. This finding indicates that environment, rather than interactions with fungal partners may be a stronger determinant for mycoheterotrophy, and that partial mycoheterotrophy is a plastic trait within some plant species. We conclude that partial mycoheterotrophy should be considered a local adaptation rather than a fixed functional trait and that fungal partner specificity does not necessarily lead to a decrease in plant fitness.

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1 - University of Hawaii Manoa, Department of Botany, 3190 Maile Way, Room 101, Honolulu, HI, 96822, USA
2 - Imperial College London and Kew Royal Botanical Garden, Department of Biological Sciences, tw9 3ds, Kew, UK
3 - University of Sheffield, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, s10 2tn, Sheffield, UK

local adaptation
stable isotopes
Moneses uniflora

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Topics
Session: 41
Location: Salon 16/The Shaw Conference Centre
Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
Time: 11:45 AM
Number: 41007
Abstract ID:334
Candidate for Awards:None


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