Abstracts of published results on tropical achlorophyllous, mycotrophic plants. Emphasis on morphology, anatomy, mycorrhiza and ecology.
Imhof, S. (2003):
A dorsiventral mycorrhizal root in the achlorophyllous Sciaphila polygyna (Triuridaceae)
Mycorrhiza 13: 327 - 332.
The star-like root system of the achlorophyllous Sciaphila polygyna (Triuridaceae) consists of roots up to 1.4 mm thick and 1 cm long seemingly radiating from a single origin. Internally, the roots show a bilateral symmetry when viewed in cross-section: the third root cell layer contains rather loose coils of the aseptate mycorrhizal fungus from the dorsal to the lateral sides, in contrast to the extremely dense coils of thin hyphae in its ventral part. Additionally, the hyphae develop vesicle-like swellings mainly in the central part of the dorsal side as well as the lateral parts of the third layer. The fourth root layer is anatomically heteromorphic, having exceptionally large cells, reaching up to 320×130 m in size (giant cells), in the lower lateral parts. The root-colonizing hyphae only degenerate in the fourth layer, most readily in the giant cells, where they may swell to 24 m in diameter, collapse and end as amorphous clumps. Hyphae in the third layer keep their definite structure.
The structures are interpreted to be the result of a dynamic reaction of the root to the actual fungal penetration points in order to maximize the benefit from the subsequent colonization by compartmentation of the root tissue. The function of the third layer is to host the fungus and keep it alive within its cells, while mainly the giant cells serve for its digestion.
Many indications suggest an arbuscular mycorrhiza for this association. Similarities and differences to other myco-heterotrophic species are discussed.
Keywords: Sciaphila - Myco-heterotrophy - Arbuscular mycorrhiza - Root structure - Bilateral symmetry
Last revised on 29 August 2003 by Stephan Imhof