If Orchid Mycorrhizal Fungi Are So Specific, How Do Natural Hybrids Cope?


terrestrial orchid
mycorrhizal fungi
symbiotic germination
amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP)

How to Cite

Hollick, P. S., Taylor, R. J., McComb, J. A., & Dixon, K. W. (2005). If Orchid Mycorrhizal Fungi Are So Specific, How Do Natural Hybrids Cope?. Selbyana, 26(1/2), 159–170. Retrieved from https://ojs.test.flvc.org/selbyana/article/view/121403


The genus Caladenia (spider orchids) is one of the most diverse in southwest Western Australia, and Caladenia species have among the most specific mycorrhizal relationships known in the orchid family. Caladenia species, however, also hybridize frequently and prolifically in nature. This study considered five natural hybrids within Caladenia and its closest relatives to elucidate the issue of mycorrhizal specificity in the hybrids and their parental species. Symbiotic cross-germination studies of parental and hybrid seed on fungi from the species and the naturally occurring hybrids were compared with data from genetic fingerprinting (amplified fragment length polymorphism, AFLP) studies of the fungi. The germination study found that, while hybrid seeds can utilize the fungi from either parental species under laboratory conditions, it is likely that the natural hybrids in-situ share the fungus of one parent only. In contrast, the genetic analysis indicated that while the parental species always possessed genetically distinct fungal strains, the hybrids may share the mycorrhizal fungus of one parental species or possess a genetically distinct fungal strain, which is more closely related to the fungus of one parental species than the other. These findings confirm the specificity of mycorrhizal relationships in Caladenia and suggest the potential of hybridization and the utilization of novel fungi as a possible pathway to speciation.


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