Journal Article

Attack on all fronts: functional relationships between aerial and root parasitic plants and their woody hosts and consequences for ecosystems

T.L. Bell and M.A. Adams

Edited by Heinz Rennenberg

in Tree Physiology

Volume 31, issue 1, pages 3-15
Published in print January 2011 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online January 2011 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/treephys/tpq108
Attack on all fronts: functional relationships between aerial and root parasitic plants and their woody hosts and consequences for ecosystems

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This review discusses how understanding of functional relationships between parasitic plants and their woody hosts have benefited from a range of approaches to their study. Gross comparisons of nutrient content between infected and uninfected hosts, or parts of hosts, have been widely used to infer basic differences or similarities between hosts and parasites. Coupling of nutrient information with additional evidence of key processes such as transpiration, respiration and photosynthesis has helped elucidate host–parasite relationships and, in some cases, the anatomical nature of their connection and even the physiology of plants in general. For example, detailed analysis of xylem sap from hosts and parasites has increased our understanding of the spatial and temporal movement of solutes within plants. Tracer experiments using natural abundance or enriched application of stable isotopes (15N, 13C, 18O) have helped us to understand the extent and form of heterotrophy, including the effect of the parasite on growth and functioning of the host (and its converse) as well as environmental effects on the parasite. Nutritional studies of woody hosts and parasites have provided clues to the distribution of parasitic plants and their roles in ecosystems. This review also provides assessment of several corollaries to the host–parasite association.

Keywords: carbon assimilation; ecosystem function; hemiparasite; mistletoe; nutrient uptake; water relations

Journal Article.  10368 words. 

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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