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Relationship of the Mistletoe Phoradendron Macrophyllum (Viscaceae) to the Wood of its Host

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The importance of direct tracheary element connections between mistletoes and their hosts is controversial. Direct connections have been reported for four genera within the Viscaceae. In the past such connections were considered essential for the movement of water and nutrients from host to parasite. In contrast, recent authors have suggested that the apoplastic continuum provided by the walls of contiguous host and parasite parenchyma cells is the main pathway for the transfer of water and nutrients, with direct connections playing at best a minor role in uptake. Our analysis of the parasite (Phoradendron)/host(Juglans) interface suggests otherwise. Parenchyma predominates at the interface for both host (71%) and parasite (95%). While direct tracheary element connections are less frequent than other types of connections, they occurred in all sinkers analyzed. Further, direct connections were much more abundant in host latewood (3.6%) than in earlywood (1.8%). This, and other evidence indicates that both pathways of transfer are important. We suggest that the apoplastic continuum provided by parasite parenchyma provides for selective uptake of nutrients, whereas direct connections provide for bulk flow between host and parasite.


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