Symbiotic Germination of a Federally Endangered Hawaiian Endemic, Platanthera holochila (Orchidaceae), Using a Mycobiont from Florida: a Conservation Dilemma


Platanthera holochila
seed germination
mycorrhizal fungi

How to Cite

Zettler, L. W., Perlman, S., Dennis, D. J., Hopkins, S. E., & Poulter, S. B. (2005). Symbiotic Germination of a Federally Endangered Hawaiian Endemic, Platanthera holochila (Orchidaceae), Using a Mycobiont from Florida: a Conservation Dilemma. Selbyana, 26(1/2), 269–276. Retrieved from


Platanthera holochila (Hbd.) Krzl. (Orchidaceae), one of three orchid species endemic to Hawaii, is among the rarest orchids in the world (U.S. federal endangered species, C1; global rank, G1) with ca. 18 surviving individuals. We provide a protocol for cultivating P. holochila to the leaf-bearing stage in-vitro, using a mycorrhizal fungus originally isolated from Florida (Epulorhiza repens, UAMH 9824). This study describes two separate experiments aimed at inducing leaf formation: (1) a low agar pH, and (2) an agar medium containing nutrients (e.g., MgSO₄·7H₂O). Seeds sown on acidified (pH 4.3) modified oats medium (MOM), containing nutrients, resulted in the highest percent germination recorded for the study (16.8%), and leaf formation (Stage 4) in up to 2.3% of the viable seed total. Also the ethics of releasing P. holochila seedlings harboring the Florida fungus into Hawaii is discussed. We advocate that such seedlings not be introduced into natural habitats in Hawaii, given the state's high number of vulnerable taxa and the potential for the fungus to further upset the ecological balance there. Platanthera holochila (Hbd.) Krzl. (Orchidaceae), es una de las tres especies de orquídeas endémicas de Hawaii y una de las orquídeas más escasa en el mundo (rango Cl de las especies federales en peligro de extincción E.E.U.U., y G1 rango global) con aproximados 18 sobrevivientes. En este artículo, proveemos un método para cultivar P. holochila hasta la etapa de produción de hojas in-vitro utilizando un micobionte aislado originalmente desde Florida (Epulorhiza repens, UAMH 9824). Este proyecto describe dos experimentos distintos, ambos enfocados en inducir formación de hojas: 1) agar de pH baja, y 2) un medio de agar nutritivo (e.g., MgSO₄·7H₂O). Las semillas sembradas en un medio modificado de avena (MOM) ácido (pH 4.3) y nutritivo resultó en el porcentaje de germinación más alto del proyecto (16.8%), y para la formación de hojas (Stage 4) en hasta 2.3% del total viable de semillas. Nosotros abogamos para que las plantas que contienen el micobionte de Florida (UAMH 9824) no sean introducidas en áreas naturales en Hawaii, dado el número alto de taxa vulnerable en el estado, y el potencial que existe para que el hongo interfiera con el balance ecológico local.


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