Molecular identification of mycorrhizal fungi in Australian threatened plant species

Dearnaley, John D. W. and Downie, Alex F. and Murray, Andrew J. and Le Brocque, Andrew F. (2008) Molecular identification of mycorrhizal fungi in Australian threatened plant species. In: 1st International Conference on Biotic Plant Interactions (ICBPI 2008), 27-29 Mar 2008, Brisbane, Australia. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Mycorrhizas are interactions between fungi and plant roots whereby plants receive inorganic nutrients in return for providing carbon to their fungal partners. There is considerable evidence that different assemblages of mycorrhizal fungi in soils can have specific impacts on plant communities. This has important implications for threatened plant species and indicates that associated mycorrhizal fungi must be identified prior to conservation procedures. Molecular methods based on PCR amplification of taxonomically important DNA regions are currently being utilized for mycorrhizal fungal identification in threatened Australian native plants. DNA can be extracted from plant root samples which contain difficult to culture mycorrhizal fungi and fungal DNA selectively amplified using fungal specific primers. Cloning and sequencing of amplicons, followed by database searching for closest species matches has revealed an array of previously undocumented mycorrhizal fungal taxa and addressed a number of important ecological questions. In the vulnerable orchid Dipodium hamiltonianum, these techniques have identified ectomycorrhizal fungi as the main partners of the species, highlighting the interconnectedness between orchid, fungus and local tree species and the importance of habitat retention for protection of orchid populations. Molecular taxonomic techniques are currently being used to identify the mycorrhizal partner of the endangered orchid Arachnorchis atroclavia so that plants can be successfully grown horticulturally and the distribution of the fungal symbiont determined in natural localities prior to species reintroductions. In the vulnerable native pea, Sophora fraseri, PCR, cloning and sequencing of root fungal DNA have shown that the plant preferentially associates with certain arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi - a finding that may explain why horticultural growth of the plant is variable in success. Molecular taxonomic techniques can thus reveal much about the previously hidden, below ground interactions between mycorrhizal fungi and plant roots and will continue to contribute significantly to conservation of many of Australia's threatened plant species.


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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Unpublished lecture.
Depositing User: Dr John Dearnaley
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Sciences - Department of Biological and Physical Sciences
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2010 05:47
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2013 06:16
Uncontrolled Keywords: mycorrhizai fungi; Australia; threatened plant species
Fields of Research (FOR2008): 06 Biological Sciences > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060307 Host-Parasite Interactions
06 Biological Sciences > 0605 Microbiology > 060505 Mycology
05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO2008): E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/8834

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