Pollination Mechanisms are Driving Orchid Distribution in Space.
ABSTRACT: Understanding the abundance and distribution patterns of species at large spatial scales is one of the goals of biogeography and macroecology, as it helps researchers and authorities in designing conservation measures for endangered species. Orchids, one of the most endangered groups of plants, have a complicated system of pollination mechanisms. Their survival strongly depends on pollination success, which then determines their presence and distribution in space. Here we concentrate on how pollination mechanisms (presence/absence of nectar) are associated with orchid species density and mean niche breadth along an altitudinal gradient in six different phytogeographical regions in the Czech Republic. We found differences between these regions in terms of orchid species numbers and density. The trend (hump-shaped curve) in species density of nectarless and nectariferous orchids were very similar in all phytogeographical regions, peaking between 300-900?m. The trend strongly depends on habitat cover and pollinator availability. In general, the most specialist species of orchids were found from low to middle altitudes. The association of altitude with the richness of orchid flora is much stronger than that with the biogeography. Climate change is a factor that should not be neglected, as it may affect the presence/absence of many species in the future.
Project description:Nectarless flowers that deceive pollinators offer an opportunity to study asymmetric plant-insect interactions. Orchids are a widely used model for studying these interactions because they encompass several thousand species adopting deceptive pollination systems. High levels of intra-specific phenotypic variation have been reported in deceptive orchids, suggesting a reduced consistency of pollinator-mediated selection on their floral traits. Nevertheless, several studies report on widespread directional selection mediated by pollinators even in these deceptive orchids. In this study we test the hypothesis that the observed selection can fluctuate across years in strength and direction thus likely contributing to the phenotypic variability of this orchid group. We performed a three-year study estimating selection differentials and selection gradients for nine phenotypic traits involved in insect attraction in two Mediterranean orchid species, namely Orchis mascula and O. pauciflora, both relying on a well-described food-deceptive pollination strategy. We found weak directional selection and marginally significant selection gradients in the two investigated species with significant intra-specific differences in selection differentials across years. Our data do not link this variation with a specific environmental cause, but our results suggest that pollinator-mediated selection in food-deceptive orchids can change in strength and in direction over time. In perennial plants, such as orchids, different selection differentials in the same populations in different flowering seasons can contribute to the maintenance of phenotypic variation often reported in deceptive orchids.
Project description:Mediterranean orchids of the subtribe Orchidinae are highly diverse and display a range of fascinating pollination strategies. Based on observations that orchid-pollinator relationships are often highly specialized and species specific, Darwin and others have argued that selection for different pollinators has been the driving force behind the evolutionary diversification of orchids. This may be true for orchids that attract different, specialized pollinators that act as prezygotic reproductive barriers. It is, however, not clear how closely related co-flowering Mediterranean orchids that share pollinators survive the challenge of sympatry. We show that species pairs with a generalized pool of pollinators have significantly more divergent karyotypes compared with species pairs with different pollinators. These results show that karyotype differences that act as postzygotic reproductive barriers may have played an important role in the evolution of Mediterranean orchid diversity.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Wild orchids are illegally harvested and traded in Nepal for use in local traditional medicine, horticulture, and international trade. This study aims to: 1) identify the diversity of species of wild orchids in trade in Nepal; 2) study the chain of commercialization from collector to client and/or export; 3) map traditional knowledge and medicinal use of orchids; and 4) integrate the collected data to propose a more sustainable approach to orchid conservation in Nepal. METHODS: Trade, species diversity, and traditional use of wild-harvested orchids were documented during field surveys of markets and through interviews. Trade volumes and approximate income were estimated based on surveys and current market prices. Orchid material samples were identified to species level using a combination of morphology and DNA barcoding. RESULTS: Orchid trade is a long tradition, and illegal export to China, India and Hong Kong is rife. Estimates show that 9.4 tons of wild orchids were illegally traded from the study sites during 2008/2009. A total of 60 species of wild orchids were reported to be used in traditional medicinal practices to cure at least 38 different ailments, including energizers, aphrodisiacs and treatments of burnt skin, fractured or dislocated bones, headaches, fever and wounds. DNA barcoding successfully identified orchid material to species level that remained sterile after culturing. CONCLUSIONS: Collection of wild orchids was found to be widespread in Nepal, but illegal trade is threatening many species in the wild. Establishment of small-scale sustainable orchid breeding enterprises could be a valuable alternative for the production of medicinal orchids for local communities. Critically endangered species should be placed on CITES Appendix I to provide extra protection to those species. DNA barcoding is an effective method for species identification and monitoring of illegal cross-border trade.
Project description:Mycorrhizal fungi are essential for the growth and development of both epiphytic (growing on trees) and lithophytic (growing on rocks) orchids. Previous studies indicate that in lowland tropical areas, orchid mycorrhizal fungal compositions are correlated with the life form (i.e., epiphytic, lithophytic, or terrestrial) of their host plants. We therefore tested if a similar correlation exists in an orchid distributed at higher elevations. Coelogyne corymbosa is an endangered ornamental orchid species that can be found as a lithophyte and epiphyte in subtropical to subalpine areas. Based on high-throughput sequencing of the fungal internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2)-rDNA region of mycorrhizae of C. corymbosa, we detected 73 putative mycorrhizal fungal Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs). The OTUs of two dominant lineages (Cantharellales and Sebacinales) detected from C. corymbosa are phylogenetically different from those of other species within the genus Coelogyne, indicating that different orchid species prefer specific mycorrhizal fungi. We also found that the Non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) plots of orchid mycorrhizal fungi were not clustered with life form, the variations among orchid mycorrhizal fungal communities of different life forms were not significant, and most of the OTUs detected from epiphytic individuals were shared by the lithophytic plants, suggesting that orchid mycorrhizal associations of C. corymbosa were not affected by life form. These findings provide novel insights into mycorrhizal associations with endangered ornamental orchids.
Project description:Orchids are the most diverse family of angiosperms, with over 25 000 species,more than mammals, birds and reptiles combined. Tests of hypotheses to account for such diversity have been stymied by the lack of a fully resolved broad-scale phylogeny. Here,we provide such a phylogeny, based on 75 chloroplast genes for 39 species representing all orchid subfamilies and 16 of 17 tribes, time-calibrated against 17 angiosperm fossils. Asupermatrix analysis places an additional 144 species based on three plastid genes. Orchids appear to have arisen roughly 112 million years ago (Mya); the subfamilies Orchidoideae and Epidendroideae diverged from each other at the end of the Cretaceous; and the eight tribes and three previously unplaced subtribes of the upper epidendroids diverged rapidly from each other between 37.9 and 30.8 Mya. Orchids appear to have undergone one significant acceleration of net species diversification in the orchidoids, and two accelerations and one deceleration in the upper epidendroids. Consistent with theory, such accelerations were correlated with the evolution of pollinia, the epiphytic habit, CAM photosynthesis, tropical distribution (especially in extensive cordilleras),and pollination via Lepidoptera or euglossine bees. Deceit pollination appears to have elevated the number of orchid species by one-half but not via acceleration of the rate of net diversification. The highest rate of net species diversification within the orchids (0.382 sp sp(-1) My(-1)) is 6.8 times that at the Asparagales crown.
Project description:In eastern Mediterranean countries orchids continue to be collected from the wild for the production of salep, a beverage made of dried orchid tubers. In this study we used nrITS1 and nrITS2 DNA metabarcoding to identify orchid and other plant species present in 55 commercial salep products purchased in Iran, Turkey, Greece and Germany. Thirty samples yielded a total of 161 plant taxa, and 13 products (43%) contained orchid species and these belonged to 10 terrestrial species with tuberous roots. Another 70% contained the substitute ingredient Cyamopsis tetraganoloba (Guar). DNA metabarcoding using the barcoding markers nrITS1 and nrITS2 shows the potential of these markers and approach for identification of species used in salep products. The analysis of interspecific genetic distances between sequences of these markers for the most common salep orchid genera shows that species level identifications can be made with a high level of confidence. Understanding the species diversity and provenance of salep orchid tubers will enable the chain of commercialization of endangered species to be traced back to the harvesters and their natural habitats, and thus allow for targeted efforts to protect or sustainably use wild populations of these orchids.
Project description:The transition from outcrossing to self-fertilization is one of the most common evolutionary changes in angiosperms. The orchid family exemplifies this evolutionary trend but, because of a general lack of large-scale surveys on auto-pollination in orchid taxa, the incidence and modes of auto-pollination among (sub)tropical orchids remain poorly known. In the present study, we assessed the frequency and mode of auto-pollination within and among species of a largely monophyletic group of Madagascan <i>Bulbophyllum</i>. The capacity for autonomous fruit set was investigated by bagging experiments in the greenhouse and the field, complemented with detailed floral micromorphological studies of the gynostemium. Our survey comprises 393 accessions, representing at least 78 species, and thus approximately 37% of the species diversity of the genus in the Madagascan region. Our studies revealed that mating type is directly related to gynostemium structure, most often involving the presence or absence of a physical barrier termed 'rostellum'. As a novel and unexpected finding, we identified eight species of a single lineage of Madagascan <i>Bulbophyllum</i> (termed 'clade C'), in which auto-pollinating morphs (selfers), either lacking a rostellum or (rarely) possessing a stigmatic rostellum, co-exist with their pollinator-dependent conspecifics (outcrossers). We hypothesize that auto-pollination via rostellum abortion has a simple genetic basis, and probably evolved rapidly and recurrently by subtle changes in the timing of rostellum development (heterochrony). Thus, species of clade C may have an intrinsic genetic and developmental lability toward auto-pollination, allowing rapid evolutionary response under environmental, perhaps human-disturbed conditions favouring reproductive assurance. Overall, these findings should stimulate further research on the incidence, evolution, and maintenance of mating type variation in tropical orchids, as well as how they adapt(ed) to changing environmental conditions.
Project description:The genus Tulasnella often forms mycorrhizas with orchids and has worldwide distribution. Species of this genus are associated with a wide range of orchids, including endangered hosts. Initially, species identification relied mostly on morphological features and few cultures were preserved for later phylogenetic comparisons. In this study, a total of 50 Tulasnella isolates were collected from their natural sites in Minas Gerais, Brazil, cultured, and subjected to a phylogenetic analysis based on alignments of sequences of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) of the nuclear ribosomal DNA. Our results, based on phylogeny, integrated with nucleotide divergence and morphology, revealed the diversity of isolated Tulasnella species, which included four new species, namely, Tulasnella brigadeiroensis, Tulasnella hadrolaeliae, Tulasnella orchidis and Tulasnella zygopetali. The conservation of these species is important due to their association with endangered orchid hosts and endemic features in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest.
Project description:Orchids are generally recognized to have specialist pollination systems and low fruit set is often thought to be characteristic of the family. In this study, we investigated the reproductive ecology of Cleisostoma linearilobatum, an epiphytic tropical orchid, in a holy hill forest fragment and a traditional tea garden in SW China using comparable methods. C. linearilobatum is self-compatible and dependent on insects for pollination. Fruit production in natural conditions was both pollinator- and resource-limited. However, the natural fruit set remained stable over multiple years at both sites. Pollination observations showed that C. linearilobatum has a generalized pollination system and seven insect species were observed as legitimate pollinators. Although the visit frequencies of different pollinators were different in the two sites, the pollinator assemblages ensured reproductive success of C. linearilobatum in both study sites over multiple years. The results partly explain why C. linearilobatum is so successful in the area, and also suggest that holy hill forest fragments and traditional tea gardens in Xishuangbanna are important in preserving orchids, especially those with generalist pollination.
Project description:Survey of post pollination events in a sexually deceptive orchid (Ophrys fusca): a transcriptional approach Pollination through deception is a widespread phenomenon in angiosperm, and is extremely common in Orchidaceae family. One of the most striking pollination mechanism in orchids is known as sexual deception, in which flowers lure pollinators by foraging chemical (sex pheromones), visual (e.g. labellum colour and/or shape) and tactile (e.g. labellum pilosity) cues of the female insect pollinator. Ophrys has been used as a model genus to study sexual deception mechanism, mainly regarding chemical analysis in plant-insect association. Study was focused on Ophrys fusca, a species widely distributed in Mediterranean Basin. The main objective rely on Ophrys fusca gene expression study after pollination, through a transcriptional approach using cDNA microarrays. In order to evaluate pollination enhanced events, two different time points were selected: 2 days and 4 days after pollination. Ophrys fusca plants were sampled from a Portuguese natural occurring population. Plants were covered with a white and inert net, built specially for preventing pollinator’s visits in both pollinated and unpollinated flowers. Cross- pollination was performed manually with a sterile plastic stick. Five biological replicates (5 plants in each replicate) from each condition (pollinated and unpollinated) were collected in each time-point Flowers that demonstrate strict pollination regulation, as orchids, provide an excellent model system to unravel pollination- elicited mechanisms (i.e. petal senescence, pigmentation changes, ovary growth). Therefore, this study aims to contribute to the overall knowledge on orchid pollination biology, which is still lacking. Overall design: 2 time points: 2 days and 4 days after pollination.Two-samples accessed: control (nonpollinated labella) and test (pollinated labella). 5 Biological replicates and 2 technical replicates (repeats of labelling and hybridization using randomly chosen biological replicates) in each time point were made.