[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 13-Aug-2009
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Contact: Graeme Baldwin
graeme.baldwin@biomedcentral.com
44-020-319-22165
BioMed Central

Orchids and fungi -- partners for life

IMAGE: This is an Aphyllorchis montana orchid.

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Three Thai orchids have been found to rely on a wide range of fungi to help them take carbon out of the soil instead of producing their own organic carbon. A detailed study of the relationship, published in the open access journal BMC Biology, also features stunning pictures of the plants.

Marc-André Selosse and Mélanie Roy, from the Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, Montpellier, France, studied Aphyllorchis montana, A. caudata and Cephalanthera exigua orchids with Suyanee Vessabutr and Santi Watthana from the Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden, Thailand. These orchids have no chlorophyll and rely on fungi colonizing their roots for their carbon supply. The plants, which grow on the ground in mountain forests, were collected from 10 different sampling sites in diverse parts of Thailand. The two Aphyllorchis orchids studied were found to associate with a wide range of fungi, while the Cephalanthera was much more specific. Selosse said, "We show for the first time that certain tropical orchids associate with highly diverse soil fungi colonizing their roots; using stable isotopes, we show that they are likely to use these fungi as a carbon source". Most importantly for conservation concerns, all these fungi associate in turn with the roots of nearby green trees, where they collect carbon for the orchids.

Speaking about the results of the study, Selosse said, "Plants really interact with fungi in an unexpectedly diverse way - the impression one gains is that there is a great need for more research on biological interactions in the tropics to unravel this diversity".

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Notes to Editors

1. Two mycoheterotrophic orchids from Thailand tropical dipterocarpacean forests associate with a broad diversity of ectomycorrhizal fungi
Mélanie Roy, Santi Watthana, Anna Stier, Franck Richard, Suyanee Vessabutr and Marc-André Selosse
BMC Biology (in press)

During embargo, article available here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/imedia/1246092962258941_article.pdf?random=877051

After the embargo, article available at journal website: http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcbiol/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication

2. Pictures of the orchids are available here:

http://www.biomedcentral.com/graphics/email/images/orchid1.jpg
http://www.biomedcentral.com/graphics/email/images/orchid2.jpg
http://www.biomedcentral.com/graphics/email/images/orchid3.jpg

3. BMC Biology - the flagship biology journal of the BMC series - publishes research and methodology articles of special importance and broad interest in any area of biology and biomedical sciences. BMC Biology (ISSN 1741-7007) is covered by PubMed, MEDLINE, BIOSIS, CAS, Scopus, EMBASE, Zoological Record, Thomson Reuters (ISI) and Google Scholar.

4. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.



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