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Abstract Detail

Ecological Section

Caraballo-Ortiz, Marcos [1], Carlo, Tomas [1].

Coevolution of American mistletoes with tree families.

Mistletoes are obligate parasitic plants that depend on host trees for their establishment, growth, and mineral nutrition. Although mistletoes play an important ecological role in plant communities, little is known about the coevolution between mistletoes and their hosts. To determine if mistletoes are host specific (a measure of coevolution), we selected the two largest mistletoe families in America (Loranthaceae and Viscaceae) and assembled a database using thousands of parasitism records from herbarium specimens and the literature. Next, we compared the frequency of host parasitism among the most common tree families and genera present in the Americas. We found that mistletoe parasitism is not random across plant families, and although parasitism has been recorded in more than 100 tree families, mistletoes were significantly more frequent in families such as Leguminosae, Fagaceae, Malvaceae, Rutaceae, and Pinaceae. To gain insight in the level of host specificity, we performed a reciprocal transplant experiment in the field using mistletoes in the genus Dendropemon (Loranthaceae). We carried out the experiment in Northeastern Puerto Rico where two very similar Dendropemon species coexist in different host trees: D. bicolor in Tabebuia (Bignoniaceae) and D. caribaeus in Citharexylum (Verbenaceae). The results of the reciprocal transplant suggest that Dendropemon mistletoes are host specific. These data also suggest that the global pattern of coevolution between mistletoes and their hosts is influenced by the taxonomic identity and the local interactions of both the parasite and its host.

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1 - Penn State University, 208 Mueller Lab, University Park, PA, 16802, USA

parasitic plant
American mistletoes

Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Sections
Session: P
Location: Khorassan Ballroom/Chase Park Plaza
Date: Monday, July 11th, 2011
Time: 5:30 PM
Number: PEC022
Abstract ID:679

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