, Volume 88, Issue 4, pp 457–462 | Cite as

Carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios of mistletoes growing on nitrogen and non-nitrogen fixing hosts and on CAM plants in the Namib desert confirm partial heterotrophy

  • E.-D. Schulze
  • O. L. Lange
  • H. Ziegler
  • G. Gebauer
Original Papers


Xylem-tapping mistletoe species growing on Mimosaccae, non-Mimosaceae and hosts performing Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) were studied along an aridity gradient in the Namib desert. °13C-values of mistletoes became more negative with decreasing nitrogen (N)-concentration in their leaves, while the host plants showed no such relationship. This might suggest that mistletoes regulate their water use efficiency according to the nitrogen supply from the host. However, further inspection of the data indicates that the relations of δ13C-values with leaf nitrogen in mistletoes may result from carbon input from the host. This is especially true for mistletoes growing on CAM plants which exhibit a very high δ13C-value, but show no evidence of CAM. It is calculated that about 60% of the carbon in mistletoes growing on C3 and on CAM hosts originated from the host. The hypothesis of Marshall and Ehleringer (1990) that xylem tapping mistletoes are also carbon parasites could explain the change in δ13C-values with N-supply and the difference in δ13C-values between mistletoes growing on C3 and CAM hosts.

Key words

Mistletoe Nitrogen and carbon parasite Carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes Water use efficiency Namibia 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • E.-D. Schulze
    • 1
  • O. L. Lange
    • 2
  • H. Ziegler
    • 3
  • G. Gebauer
    • 1
  1. 1.Lchrstuhl PflanzenökologieUniversität BayreuthBayreuthGermany
  2. 2.Lehrstuhl Botanik IIUniversität WürzburgWürzburgFederal Republic of Germany
  3. 3.Instrtut für Botanik und MikrobiologieTU MünchenMünchenGermany

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