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Mycorrhiza

, Volume 17, Issue 6, pp 475–486 | Cite as

Further advances in orchid mycorrhizal research

  • John D. W. DearnaleyEmail author
Review

Abstract

Orchid mycorrhizas are mutualistic interactions between fungi and members of the Orchidaceae, the world’s largest plant family. The majority of the world’s orchids are photosynthetic, a small number of species are myco-heterotrophic throughout their lifetime, and recent research indicates a third mode (mixotrophy) whereby green orchids supplement their photosynthetically fixed carbon with carbon derived from their mycorrhizal fungus. Molecular identification studies of orchid-associated fungi indicate a wide range of fungi might be orchid mycobionts, show common fungal taxa across the globe and support the view that some orchids have specific fungal interactions. Confirmation of mycorrhizal status requires isolation of the fungi and restoration of functional mycorrhizas. New methods may now be used to store orchid-associated fungi and store and germinate seed, leading to more efficient culture of orchid species. However, many orchid mycorrhizas must be synthesised before conservation of these associations can be attempted in the field. Further gene expression studies of orchid mycorrhizas are needed to better understand the establishment and maintenance of the interaction. These data will add to efforts to conserve this diverse and valuable association.

Keywords

Orchid mycorrhizas Mixotrophy Myco-heterotrophy Rhizoctonia Russulaceae 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Peter McGee and Vivienne Gianinazzi-Pearson for the invitation to write this review and Duncan Cameron, Marc-Andre Selosse and Jeremy Bougoure for permission to use the images in Figs. 1a and b, 2c and d. I am indebted to two anonymous reviewers and Jerry Maroulis for comments and suggestions on the manuscript.

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© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Sciences and Australian Centre for Sustainable CatchmentsThe University of Southern QueenslandToowoombaAustralia

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