, Volume 27, Issue 6, pp 611–618 | Cite as

An annotated translation of Noël Bernard’s 1899 article ‘On the germination of Neottia nidus-avis

  • Marc-André SelosseEmail author
  • Julita Minasiewicz
  • Bernard Boullard


We translate Noël Bernard’s discovery of orchid symbiotic germination discovered on Neottia nidus-avis, as published in the May 1899 issue of the Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Académie des sciences. In his note, Bernard (1874–1911) establishes the need for a fungus, which is also forming mycorrhizae in adults, for seeds germination. We provide illustrations reproduced from his later works, and summaries of the French text he cited. In our annotations, we show how early this discovery was done in Bernard’s career, and insist on the scientific framework at the end of the nineteenth century, where orchid germination was mysterious and the need for vicinity of parents was not fully understood. We comment the text of Bernard on the basis of the most recent knowledge on Neottia nidus-avis and on orchid mycorrhizal fungi. Introducing his following papers, we finally discuss the emergence of the concept of peloton digestion, and how Bernard’s work quickly paved the way to a general understanding of mycoheterotrophic germination in orchids and beyond.


Dust seeds Germination Mycoheterotrophy Orchids Pelotons Protocorm 



M.-A.S. and J.M.’s research is supported by the 2015/18/A/NZ8/00149 grant funded by National Science Centre (Poland). The authors thank David Marsh for English corrections and advices in translation, as well as Alzbeta Novotna and two anonymous referees for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marc-André Selosse
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Julita Minasiewicz
    • 2
  • Bernard Boullard
    • 3
  1. 1.Institut de Systématique, Évolution, Biodiversité (ISYEB - UMR 7205 – CNRS, MNHN, UPMC, EPHE), Muséum National d’Histoire NaturelleSorbonne UniversitésParisFrance
  2. 2.Department of Plant Taxonomy and Nature ConservationUniversity of GdanskGdanskPoland
  3. 3.Emeritus Professor at the University of RouenBois-GuillaumeFrance

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