- • Cavendishia nobilis var. capitata is an endemic member of the Ericaceae growing as a hemiepiphyte in the tropical mountain rain forest of southern Ecuador.
- • Mycorrhizas were collected from 20 individuals along an altitudinal gradient between 1850 and 2300 m. Transmission electron microscopy was used to study the symbiotic association in detail, and phylogenetic analyses based on nuclear rDNA coding for the ribosomal large subunit (nucLSU) were carried out to identify the associated mycorrhizal fungi.
- • Microscopic and ultrastructural investigations showed the formation of a hyphal sheath, intercellular penetration of fine hyphae and colonization of the cortical cells by swollen hyphae of the same fungus. These structures were formed by hymenomycetes and ascomycetes. Molecular phylogenetic analysis detected seven groups of mycorrhizal fungi belonging to the Sebacinales. This is the first study to obtain evidence of ectendomycorrhizas in the Vaccinioideae. The ascomycetous nucLSU sequences belonged to members of the Leotiomycetes.
- • The ectendomycorrhiza of C. nobilis with Sebacinales is discussed as a specific, hitherto undescribed mycorrhizal subcategory of ectomycorrhizas. We propose the term ‘cavendishioid mycorrhiza’. This subcategory is most likely specific for the Andean clade of Ericaceae.
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