Zimmer, K; Hynson, NA; Gebauer, G; Allen, EB; Allen, MF; Read, DJ: Wide geographical and ecological distribution of nitrogen and carbon gains from fungi in pyroloids and monotropoids (Ericaceae) and in orchids, New Phytologist, 175, 166-175 (2007), doi:10.1111/j.1469-8137.2007.02065.x
Stable isotope abundance analyses recently revealed that some European green orchids and pyroloids (Ericaceae) are partially myco-heterotrophic, exploiting mycorrhizal fungi for organic carbon and nitrogen. Here we investigate related species to assess their nutritional mode across various forest and climate types in Germany and California. C- and N-isotope signatures of five green pyroloids, three green orchids and several obligate myco-heterotrophic species (including the putatively fully myco-heterotrophic Pyrola aphylla) were analysed to quantify the green plants' nutrient gain from their fungal partners and to investigate the constancy of enrichment in C-13 and N-15 of fully myco-heterotrophic plants from diverse taxa and locations relative to neighbouring autotrophic plants. All green pyroloid and one orchid species showed significant N-15 enrichment, confirming incorporation of fungi-derived N compounds while heterotrophic C gain was detected only under low irradiance in Orthilia secunda. Pyrola aphylla had an isotope signature equivalent to those of fully myco-heterotrophic plants. It is demonstrated that primarily N gain from mycorrhizal fungi occurred in all taxonomic groups investigated across a wide range of geographical and ecological contexts. The C-13 and N-15 enrichment of obligate myco-heterotrophic plants relative to accompanying autotrophic plants turned out as a fairly constant parameter.
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