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How Mycorrhizal Associations Influence Orchid Distribution and Population Dynamics

Taiqiang Li, Shimao Wu, Wenke Yang, Marc-André Selosse,
Published: 7 May 2021
Frontiers in Plant Science , Volume 12; doi:10.3389/fpls.2021.647114

Abstract: Orchid distribution and population dynamics are influenced by a variety of ecological factors and the formation of holobionts, which play key roles in colonization and ecological community construction. Seed germination, seedling establishment, reproduction, and survival of orchid species are strongly dependent on orchid mycorrhizal fungi (OMF), with mycorrhizal cheating increasingly observed in photosynthetic orchids. Therefore, changes in the composition and abundance of OMF can have profound effects on orchid distribution and fitness. Network analysis is an important tool for the study of interactions between plants, microbes, and the environment, because of the insights that it can provide into the interactions and coexistence patterns among species. Here, we provide a comprehensive overview, systematically describing the current research status of the effects of OMF on orchid distribution and dynamics, phylogenetic signals in orchid–OMF interactions, and OMF networks. We argue that orchid–OMF associations exhibit complementary and specific effects that are highly adapted to their environment. Such specificity of associations may affect the niche breadth of orchid species and act as a stabilizing force in plant–microbe coevolution. We postulate that network analysis is required to elucidate the functions of fungal partners beyond their effects on germination and growth. Such studies may lend insight into the microbial ecology of orchids and provide a scientific basis for the protection of orchids under natural conditions in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
Keywords: orchid performance / keystone taxa / Evolutionary constraints / mycorrhizal networks / Environmental Variables / Orchid mycorrhizal fungi / complementary selection

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