Orchid mycorrhizas - a disproportionate focus on the minutiae?

Dearnaley, John (2010) Orchid mycorrhizas - a disproportionate focus on the minutiae? In: 2010 Joint Australasian Mycological Society and the Australian Society for Mycrobiology Meeting , 4-8 July 2010, Sydney, Australia.

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Orchid mycorrhizas are symbiotic associations between fungi and members of the orchid family. The association has been particularly well studied over the last century and much has been learned regarding the anatomy, physiology and ecology of the interaction. Orchids are a significant global horticultural industry, as well, vanilla is a major crop species in tropical regions. Does this warrant the considerable research activity focussed on orchid mycorrhizas or is such study a disproportionate focus on the minutiae?

Increasing our understanding of the interaction between mycorrhizal fungi and orchids has merit for a number of reasons. With more than 25,000 species described, orchids represent a large portion of global botanical diversity. A significant number of orchids appear on world threatened species lists and a more complete understanding of the ecology of such taxa is needed for successful conservation work. Although orchids typically associate with the basidiomycete group of fungi there is considerable diversity in the fungal taxa involved. This now includes not only the well documented heteterobasidiomycete genera (eg. Sebacina, Ceratobasidium, Thanatephorus, Tulasnella), but also a wide cross section of higher basidiomycetes (eg. Coprinus, Russula, Psathyrella, Inocybe, Campanella). Investigation of these associations adds to basic biological understanding of the fungal taxa concerned, as well as completes a broader ecological picture. Recent research has demonstrated orchid mycorrhizas as a true mutualism, with the photosynthetic host providing carbon to its fungal partner in exchange for water and inorganic nutrients. There are two major implications of this. As the association is easy to study in the laboratory (both partners can be axenically cultured) compared to ectomycorrhizas and arbuscular mycorrhizas, orchid mycorrhizas could be used as a general mycorrhizal model. Orchids appear to have carbon inputs into the common mycelial network throughout soils and thus their contribution to ecosystem health should be recognised.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Poster)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: This is an unrefereed poster paper. Abstract only published, as supplied here.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Sciences - Department of Biological and Physical Sciences (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Sciences - Department of Biological and Physical Sciences (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Date Deposited: 25 Feb 2011 04:01
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2013 00:03
Uncontrolled Keywords: orchid mycorrhizas
Fields of Research (2008): 06 Biological Sciences > 0605 Microbiology > 060505 Mycology
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): D Environment > 96 Environment > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/8825

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