We examined the roots of 27 epiphytic and terrestrial species of Piperaceae collected in primary and secondary habitats in Monteverde, Costa Rica. Terrestrial roots of only two of the nine Peperomia species, two of eight Piper species, and of Pothomorphe umbellatum contained internal vesicles and/or arbuscules. We did not find internal vesicles and/or arbuscules in 3024 cm of fine roots of epiphytic Piperaceae, even though 15% of these root segments had associated external typical glomalean hyphae. Glomus and Acaulospora spores, and Gigaspora auxiliary cells occurred in both canopy and terrestrial habitats. After inoculation of a low nutrient substrate, the facultatively epiphytic Peperomia costaricensis averaged 23% mycorrhizal root length. Relatively high atmospheric inputs of dissolved inorganic nutrients that alleviate the requirement for mycorrhizae, and heterogeneity of mycorrhiza inocula in the canopy may explain the absence of mycorrhizae from epiphytic Piperaceae. We suggest that the Piperaceae comprises predominantly facultatively mycotrophic species, and that facultative mycotrophism facilitates their radiation to the canopy.
- Cloud forest
- Facultative mycotrophy
- Vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizae
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)