The new ethereal plant species do not use photosynthesis

The new ethereal plant species do not use photosynthesis

Cloaked in the shadows of the enchanting Asian forests, strange growths can be seen among the leaf litter like the ghosts of long-dead flowers.

The plant’s foliage lacks green pigment after it abandoned photosynthesis in favor of an alternative source of nutrients in the forest floor, stolen from the fungi that many other plants consider friends: the symbiotic mycorrhizae which connect most forest plants in a wide wooden net.

Widely found in East and Southeast Asia, from the Himalayas to Japan, Low monotropaster it was thought to be a single species. Now, researchers in Japan and Taiwan have discovered a pink color that qualifies as a unique species in its own right, one they’ve named. Monotropastrum kirishimense.

Wide webs of wood (incredible networks of fungi and plant roots that span entire forests) act as highways for nutrient delivery, as well as cables for transferring information between plants through electrical and chemical signals. These connections help strengthen a forest as a whole, distributing resources from nutrient-poor to nutrient-rich areas of the network. They also allow plants warn each other of predators and even help protect them from drought.

In exchange for these services, plants pay their allied fungi with some of the hydrocarbons they produce through photosynthesis.

But Monotropastrum betrays this mutualistic relationship by robbing the fungi of all their nutrients, without offering photosynthetic products to the web in return, making them part of a very selective mycoheterotrophic club.

The new species (above) i M. low (below). J Plant Res2022).

The most distinct feature of the newly described Japanese variant is its pink petals and sepals, but there are other differences as well, the researchers note.

Unlike his cousin M. low, the roots of the newly discovered plant barely protrude from the soil. They are also more strongly associated with a RĂºssula mycorrhizal lineage, while M. low favors a completely different variety of fungi.

Also, despite growing up side by side, M. Kirishimense’s the flowering season does not overlap with that of M. low, flowering 40 days after the best-known species. This study of these life cycle and interactions between wildlife and physical forces on earth, such as the seasons, is called phenology.

“Our multifaceted evidence leads us to conclude that this taxon is morphologically, phenologically, phylogenetically and ecologically distinct and should therefore be recognized as a separate species,” said Kobe University ecologist Kenji Suetsugu and the his colleagues they conclude in their paper.

“Our study presents the exciting possibility of a host switching M. kirishimensetowards a specific RĂºssula lineage, led to ecological speciation.”

Their different flowering seasons ensure they share the main pollinator, the bumblebee A different bombit cannot accidentally give one species the pollen of the other, avoiding hybridization.

Many of the the world’s forests are under threat and how Monotropastrum Species depend on ancient forests, these strange plants are also vulnerable to extinction. M. kirishimense it is rare and researchers suspect that it is probably endangered.

The new plant was described in Journal of plant research.

#ethereal #plant #species #photosynthesis

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