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About the collection „Tropical liverworts serving as vectors of symbiotic fungi” at the Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart



The Collection

Aneura 1-4 Porus

Liverworts are considered to be the oldest terrestrial plants. They undergo a connection with fungi that represents the oldest symbiosis between plants and fungi.

This symbiosis was studied for the very first time in a tropical forest within the frame of the DFG Research Unit 402: Functionality in a Tropical Mountain Rainforest - Diversity, Dynamic Processes and Utilization Potentials under Ecosystem Perspectives. The investigation area is situated in South Ecuador near to the city of Loja and extends from 1.000 to 3.000 m above sea level. Symbiotic fungi were found in 42 liverwort and two hornwort species. Several associations were new for science or for the Tropics. The fungi originate from three related groups: Glomeromycetes (Glomeromycota), sac fungi (Ascomycota), and basidiomycetes (Basidiomycota). Under the basidiomycetes, the two genera Sebacina and Tulasnella were found. Both genera are new symbionts of liverworts for the Tropics.

Over 80% of all terrestrial plant species exhibit a symbiosis with fungi (Mykorrhiza). As liverworts are the first terrestrial plants there is strong indication that this symbiosis arose in them and switched over to clubmosses, ferns and finally to phanerogams. Liverworts are seen for this reason as vectors for symbiotic fungi.

These investigations were carried out together with the Institut für spezielle Botanik of the University of Tübingen. They were first possible through a combination of light and electron microscopy with DNA analysis. All vouchers are kept at the herbarium STU of the State Museum for Natural History Stuttgart. The museum holds one of the most valuable collections of moss-fungus-symbiosis worldwide.

Data Project and Service

The Ministry for Science, Research and the Arts in Baden-Württemberg supported inventory, digitalisation and online access of the collections. Technical support is provided by the IT Center of the Staatliche Naturwissenschaftliche Sammlungen Bayerns within the projects BiNHum (Biodiversity Network of the Humboldt-Ring) and GFBio (German Federation for the Curation of Biological Data), both funded by the German Research Foundation DFG.

The Database "Tropical liverworts serving as vectors for symbiotic fungi at the Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart" and – if not stated otherwise – its supporting files have been copyrighted © 2014–2022 by the Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart.

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