, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 215–220 | Cite as

The holoparasitic endophyte Bdallophyton americanum affects root water conductivity of the tree Bursera simaruba

  • José G. García-Franco
  • Jorge López-Portillo
  • Guillermo Ángeles
Original Article


It has been reported that parasitic vascular plants (hemiparasites and holoparasites) may affect host fitness, but the effects produced by root endophyte holoparasitic species on its host have not been documented. Here the effect of the holoparasitic endophyte Bdallophyton americanum (R. Br.) Harms on the root conductivity of Bursera simaruba (L.) Sarg. was studied. Parasitized and non-parasitized root segments were sampled in the rainy and dry seasons in a dry coastal forest in central Veracruz, Mexico. Root diameter, hydraulic (K h) and specific conductivity (K s = K h/root transverse area), percent loss of conductivity and reproductive specific conductivity (K h /inflorescence or infructescense dry weight) data were obtained. The diameter and number of conductive and non-conductive vessels were recorded in parasitized and non-parasitized root segments in the dry season. Root diameters were not different between root types and seasons, but root specific conductivity was different both between seasons and root types. Specific conductivity on parasitized roots was 61% (wet season) and 85% (dry season) lower than that recorded for non-parasitized roots in the wet season. Root hydraulic conductivity was positively related with the biomass of reproductive structures of B. americanum in the wet season. The parasite appears to alter the xylem morphogenesis of the host, reducing vessel number by 40%, but not plugging or otherwise harming the conductive vessels, and resulted in no change in vessel diameter. Contrary to what has been reported to occur in some plant stems infected with hemiparasitic mistletoes, B. americanum decreases but does not eliminate conductivity to the distal plant parts.


Root parasite Root hydraulic conductivity Tropical dry forest Veracruz Mexico 



We thank L. Ríos F. for helping us with the field and lab work, and to E. López and A. P. García for their kind hospitality at CICOLMA. Comments and suggestions from F. W. Ewers and two anonymous reviewers greatly improved the quality of the manuscript. The research was supported partially by Instituto de Ecología, A.C. (902-17-144, 902-17-016 and 902-15-666) and the Mexican National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT; grant to JLP No. 25935-N).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • José G. García-Franco
    • 1
  • Jorge López-Portillo
    • 1
  • Guillermo Ángeles
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento Ecología FuncionalInstituto de Ecología, A.C.XalapaMéxico
  2. 2.Departamento Productos ForestalesInstituto de Ecología, A.C.XalapaMéxico

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