(Co)investigator from the Department: 
Funding provider: 
The Czech Science Foundation
Project goals: 

The project aims to identify the factors underlying co-existence and niche partitioning of orchids in species-rich habitats of two climatically different regions by exploration of functional traits of orchids and their mycorrhizal fungi.

Project description: 

Plant species can co-exist under natural conditions due to niche partitioning and an association with mycorrhizal fungi is one way to differentiate resources. Orchids critically rely on mycorrhiza during life cycle, and coexistence may be strongly contingent on the functional traits (FT) of their symbionts. Congruently, co-occurring orchids tend to associate with distinct mycorrhizal communities. It is however unclear to what extent orchid mycorrhizal fungi differ in ecological strategies and corresponding FT to enable effective niche partitioning. We propose to explore FT of orchid-fungus communities in species-rich habitats of two climatically different regions with special focus on enzymatic activity and nutrient utilization of fungi, mycorrhizal specificity under different conditions and presence of endohyphal bacteria. Using bipartite network modelling and multivariate statistical models we will describe the network structure and co-variation of FT of both symbiotic partners. The FT of orchid mycorrhizal fungi will be explored in such a complex approach for the first time.