Mycoheterotrophy: An Introduction

Chapter

Abstract

“Mycoheterotrophy” is a term for a plant’s ability to obtain carbon from associated fungi. Many plants are capable of mycoheterotrophy, including liverworts, lycophytes, ferns, and angiosperms. Some plants completely depend on mycoheterotrophy during their entire life cycle; others rely on mycoheterotrophy only at a particular stage of their development or are able to perform mycoheterotrophy and autotrophy simultaneously. In this introductory part, I discuss the basic concepts of mycoheterotrophy as well as the terminology and definitions used in this book. Since an understanding of mycoheterotrophy relies heavily on general concepts of the mycorrhizal symbiosis, I provide a basic introduction into mycorrhizal associations, with emphasis on plant–fungus interactions capable of mycoheterotrophy. This chapter ends with a short historical overview of scientific research on mycoheterotrophy that has led to our current understanding of this fascinating phenomenon.

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Naturalis Biodiversity CenterLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

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