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Tulasnella sp. 427 growing in the lab. [Photo credit: Mike Kane]

Tulasnella sp. 427

Orchid seeds require organic carbon acquired from mycorrhizal fungi to germinate and develop. To better understand the genome evolution of fungi that participate in the orchid mycorrhizal symbiosis, we are sequencing a variety of fungal species that have been demonstrated to germinate orchid seeds. Analyses of these genomes will reveal patterns that may explain their ability to interact with orchids.

Tulasnella sp. 427 (UAMH 11955) was isolated from roots of the diminutive epiphytic Jingle Bell Orchid, Dendrophylax porrectus, in 2014, at McBride's Pond in the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge (FPNWR) in Collier Co., Florida. This fungus was shown to be effective at facilitating seed germination of several epiphytic orchid species in vitro, most notably the Cigar Orchid, Cyrtopodium punctatum. Isolation of Tulasnella from a Dendrophylax species is noteworthy. This fungus has yet to be tested in symbiotic germination using seeds from the host species.