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Fungi-filled forests are critical for endangered orchids
Date:1/24/2012

from older forest plots had host fungi that were five to 12 times more abundant compared to younger forests, even where the research team had not added them. They were more diverse as well. More mature plots averaged 3.6 different Tulasnella fungi species per soil sample (a group of fungi beneficial to these orchids), while the younger ones averaged only 1.3.

Host fungi were also more abundant in plots where rotting wood was added. These host fungi, which are primarily decomposers, may grow better in places where decomposing wood or leaves are plentiful.

All this implies that to save endangered orchids, planting new forests may not be enough. If the forests are not old enough or do not have enough of the right fungi, lost orchids may take decades to return, if they return at all.

"This study, for the first time, ties orchid performance firmly to the abundance of their fungi," McCormick said. "It reveals the way to determine what conditions host fungi need, so we can support recovery of the fungi needed by threatened and endangered orchids."


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Contact: Kristen Minogue
443-482-2325
Smithsonian
Source:Eurekalert  

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