Klooster, Matthew R. , Culley, Theresa M. .
Comparative analysis of the reproductive ecology of two myco-heterotrophic genera in the Monotropoideae (Ericaceae).
In recent years, research conducted upon pollinator and mycorrhizal associations has facilitated a better understanding of highly specialized interspecific ecological interactions. Myco-heterotrophs, defined as plants that acquire carbon and nutrient resources from mycorrhizal fungi, have been tremendously useful as study organisms for mycorrhizal symbioses. Despite being free from some of the ecological constraints inherent to a photosynthetic life history, myco-heterotrophic organisms that rely on mycorrhizal fungi for resources may be subject to a unique set of limitations. Specifically, it is unclear if specialization on mycorrhizal associations has resulted in the evolution of generalization in other life history traits, such as reproductive ecology. To assess the complexity and levels of specialization in myco-heterotroph reproductive ecology, a comparative analysis was conducted between two closely related genera, Monotropa and Monotropsis. Three consecutive years of field observations and manipulations were performed on members of each genus to investigate flowering phenology, pollination ecology, breeding system, and reproductive effort and output. Results from these analyses indicated that color forms within the species Monotropa hypopitys when compared to the congener Monotropa uniflora each exhibited unique reproductive traits, some of which differed considerably from Monotropsis odorata. Additionally, this analysis offered insight into possible shared constraints in the reproductive biology of these taxa, likely a direct result of limitations intrinsic to myco-heterotrophy. This study is the first thorough investigation of the reproductive ecology of myco-heterotrophic species and offers insight into the implications this life history trait may have for uniform convergence upon a generalist reproductive strategy.
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1 - University of Cincinnati, Department of Biological Sciences, 614 Rieveschl Hall, Cincinnati, OH, 45221-0006, USA
2 - University of Cincinnati, Department of Biological Sciences, 614 Rieveschl Hall, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45221, USA
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Location: Council Chambers/SUB
Date: Monday, July 28th, 2008
Time: 2:00 PM