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Symbiotic fungi undergo a taxonomic and functional bottleneck during orchid seeds germination: a case study on Dendrobium moniliforme

  • Yuan-Yuan Meng
  • Xu-Li Fan
  • Lv-Rong Zhou
  • Shi-Cheng Shao
  • Qiang Liu
  • Marc-André SelosseEmail author
  • Jiang-Yun GaoEmail author
Short Communications


In many germinating orchids that rely on fungal partners for their nutrition, fungal diversity decreases during development. We document this pattern in the in situ development of Dendrobium moniliforme, where the diversity of cultivable Tulasnella species drops from the early germinating stage (6 Tulasnella species) to that of emergence of the second leaf (2 species), with species discontinuance and no new species appearing. We investigated the functional aspects of this decay by germinating seeds in vitro with the different strains available and observed, over 60 and 120 days, a perfect match between the stages at which Tulasnella spp. occur in situ and the ability to support in vitro development to this stage. The taxonomic bottleneck during germination may result, at least in D. moniliforme, from inability of the fungus to support seedling growth beyond a specific stage. Moreover, the isolated Tulasnella strains that best supported D. moniliforme development did not cluster together phylogenetically. Thus, the interaction between partners, rather than intrinsic fungal traits, may be involved in bottleneck of fungal symbionts during orchid germination.


Microspermy Mycoheterotrophy Partner compatibility Protocorm Symbiotic germination Tulasnella 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (U1702235) and the Ministry and Province Joint Construction Project of Yunnan University (C176280109).

Supplementary material

13199_2019_647_Fig2_ESM.png (1.2 mb)
Figure S1

Effects of strains of different Tulasnella OTUs (control on medium MS and OMA, or with addition of one of the seven inoculated strains) on the successive stages of the germination process of Dendrobium moniliforme after 60 days. In each panel, different letters indicate significant differences based on Tukey tests of variance. (PNG 1205 kb)

13199_2019_647_MOESM1_ESM.tif (2.5 mb)
High Resolution (TIF 2596 kb)
13199_2019_647_Fig3_ESM.png (128 kb)
Figure S2

Mantel test between phylogenetic distance of Tulasnella OTUs (from Fig. 1) and the comparison of the latest stage of Dendrobium moniliforme germination they support over 60 days (‘stage consistency,’ coded as a Boolean value: 0, same stage reached; 1, different stage). The test is non-significant (P = 0.06) and r, the correlation coefficient, indicates low prediction of the stage reached by phylogenetic position. (PNG 127 kb)

13199_2019_647_MOESM2_ESM.tif (1.7 mb)
High Resolution (TIF 1791 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Integrative Conservation, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical GardenChinese Academy of SciencesMenglaChina
  2. 2.Laboratory of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyYunnan UniversityKunmingChina
  3. 3.Key Laboratory for Plant Diversity and Biogeography of East Asia, Kunming Institute of BotanyChinese Academy of SciencesKunmingChina
  4. 4.Institut de Systématique, Evolution, Biodiversité (ISYEB), Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, CNRS, Sorbonne Université, EPHE, CP 39ParisFrance
  5. 5.Faculty of BiologyUniversity of GdanskGdanskPoland

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