Recovery of Mycorrhizal Fungi from the Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid, Platanthera leucophaea

In the late 1990s, Illinois College began a project to recover the fungi that a Federally threatened orchid from the Midwest (P. leucophaea) utilizes to complete its life cycle in nature. This work, carried out in collaboration with Marlin Bowles (The Morton Arboretum) and Tim Bell (Chicago State University), has resulted in the recovery of 75 different fungus strains, 35 of which have been deposited (safeguarded) via cryopreservation at UAMH in Canada ( Some of these fungi have been used to prompt seed germination of this rare orchid. Efforts to recover more fungi from P. leucophaea populations in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan are planned through 2012, in collaboration with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Photo: Tim Bell

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