Species Interactions of Mycoheterotrophic Plants: Specialization and its Potential Consequences

  • Richard J. Waterman
  • Matthew R. Klooster
  • Heiko Hentrich
  • Martin I. Bidartondo


Mycoheterotrophic plants are defined by their unique species interactions—the majority have evolved to exploit plant–fungal mutualisms for carbon resources. A phylogenetically diverse group of plants have evolved mycoheterotrophism, and a wide variety of fungi have been exploited. Mycoheterotrophy is often associated with high specificity towards particular fungi, and this is likely to have consequences for other aspects of these plants’ biology, such as distribution patterns, and diversification. It has also been speculated that it will impact the wider network of species interactions that these plants engage in, such as those with pollinators. For example, it has long been hypothesized that mycoheterotrophic plants should be predisposed to either self-pollination or a generalist pollination strategy. We review the evidence for these hypotheses and discuss various case-studies into the interaction networks of these plants. It is clear that the mycoheterotrophic lifestyle has consequences for these plants beyond their nutrition. As such, mycoheterotrophy offers excellent case-studies into the effects of a specialized interaction on multiple aspects of plant ecology and evolution, including pollination, herbivory, and speciation.


Mycorrhizal Fungus Ectomycorrhizal Fungus Floral Visitor Fungal Partner Fungal Host 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard J. Waterman
    • 1
  • Matthew R. Klooster
    • 2
  • Heiko Hentrich
    • 3
  • Martin I. Bidartondo
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Animal and Plant SciencesUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK
  2. 2.Centre College, Biology ProgramDanvilleUSA
  3. 3.Ecosystem Analysis, Institute for Environmental SciencesUniversity of Koblenz-LandauLandau in der PfalzGermany
  4. 4.Imperial College London and Royal Botanic GardensKewUK

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