, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 225–232 | Cite as

Are there keystone mycorrhizal fungi associated to tropical epiphytic orchids?

  • Stefania Cevallos
  • Aminael Sánchez-Rodríguez
  • Cony Decock
  • Stéphane Declerck
  • Juan Pablo Suárez
Original Article


In epiphytic orchids, distinctive groups of fungi are involved in the symbiotic association. However, little is known about the factors that determine the mycorrhizal community structure. Here, we analyzed the orchid mycorrhizal fungi communities associated with three sympatric Cymbidieae epiphytic tropical orchids (Cyrtochilum flexuosum, Cyrtochilum myanthum, and Maxillaria calantha) at two sites located within the mountain rainforest of southern Ecuador. To characterize these communities at each orchid population, the ITS2 region was analyzed by Illumina MiSeq technology. Fifty-five mycorrhizal fungi operational taxonomic units (OTUs) putatively attributed to members of Serendipitaceae, Ceratobasidiaceae and Tulasnellaceae were identified. Significant differences in mycorrhizal communities were detected between the three sympatric orchid species as well as among sites/populations. Interestingly, some mycorrhizal OTUs overlapped among orchid populations. Our results suggested that populations of studied epiphytic orchids have site-adjusted mycorrhizal communities structured around keystone fungal species. Interaction with multiple mycorrhizal fungi could favor orchid site occurrence and co-existence among several orchid species.


Epiphytic tropical orchids Co-existing species Illumina sequencing ITS2 Microbial community assembly OTU reconstruction 



This research was supported by the Académie de Recherche et d’Enseignement Supérieur Wallonie-Bruxelles (ARES) within the frame of a PRD project. We would like to thank Paulo Herrera for his contribution to the laboratory work.

Supplementary material

572_2016_746_MOESM1_ESM.docx (117 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 116 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Earth and Life Institute, Applied Microbiology, MycologyUniversité catholique de LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium
  2. 2.Departamento de Ciencias BiológicasUniversidad Técnica Particular de LojaLojaEcuador
  3. 3.Earth and Life Institute, Applied Microbiology, MycologyUniversité catholique de Louvain, Mycothèque de l’Université catholique de Louvain (MUCL1)Louvain-la-NeuveBelgium

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