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Revista Chilena de Historia Natural 85 (2): 179-186, 2012
Mycotrophy in Gilliesieae, a threatened and poorly known tribe of Alliaceae from central Chile
The five known genera of Gilliesieae have their diversity center in the Mediterranean zone of central Chile, where many of their habitats are threatened by urban expansion, industrial and agroforestry activities, as well as other anthropogenic impacts. Very little is known about the biology of these particular geophytes, the majority of which currently have either vulnerable or endangered status, mainly due to their dispersed and small populations generally associated to remnants of native vegetation. As mycorrhizal associations are essential for soil resource acquisition and stress mitigation in most plants, our objective was to assess the hitherto unknown mycotrophic status of ten species of Gilliesieae from central Chile by qualitative and quantitative assessment of intraradical fungal structures. All sampled genera (Gethyum, Gilliesia, Miersia, Solaria, Speea) showed regular presence of arbuscular mycorrhiza, while other mycorrhizal or putatively mutualistic associations, like dark septate endophytes, were practically absent. Mycorrhizal colonization of fi ne roots reached a mean of ca. 45 % across all examined taxa, with highly variable values ranging from 9 % to 82 % in Miersia tenuiseta and Gilliesia curicana, respectively. The high level of mycorrhization indicates that arbuscular mycorrhiza should be considered for conservation strategies of threatened species or biotechnological use in plant propagation. The main future task is the identification of the associated fungal taxa.
Key words:
endangered species, Glomeromycota, latitudinal transect, Mediterranean climate, Monocotyledoneae

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