Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi may serve as another nutrient strategy for some hemiparasitic species of Pedicularis (Orobanchaceae)

Mycorrhiza. 2008 Oct;18(8):429-436. doi: 10.1007/s00572-008-0196-z. Epub 2008 Aug 15.


As an important component of plant kingdom, parasitic plants have intrigued many scientists with their heterotrophic strategy. Numerous investigations have been carried out for a better understanding of interactions between parasitic plants and their hosts. Nevertheless, studies on parasitic plants from a mycorrhizal perspective are lacking, largely because of the notion that parasitic plants do not form mycorrhizal associations. Although long being regarded as nonmycorrhizal, some Pedicularis species are recently found to be heavily colonized by mycorrhizal fungi. Because the precise information about parasitism of Chinese Pedicularis has been lacking, we surveyed both the mycorrhizal status and parasitism of 29 Pedicularis species from the northwest of Yunnan Province, China, to test the hypothesis that some Pedicularis may be mycorrhizal and parasitic simultaneously. The majority of studied species were found to be parasitic as well as mycorrhizal. In some cases, parasitic organs and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) were detected in the same rootlets. The results suggest that some Pedicularis species may have another nutrient strategy (e.g., mycotrophy) besides being parasitic. Also, the findings indicate that host plants as well as AMF should be taken into account in cultivation of Pedicularis species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Food
  • Mycorrhizae / physiology*
  • Pedicularis / microbiology*
  • Pedicularis / parasitology*
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena
  • Plant Roots / cytology
  • Plant Roots / microbiology