Yun-Bing Zhang, You are what you eat: nutrient and water relations between mistletoes and hosts
Mixed Effect Model
You are what you eat: nutrient and water relations between mistletoes and hosts
Mistletoes play important roles in biogeochemical cycles. Although many studies have compared nutrient concentrations between mistletoes and their hosts, no general patterns have been found and the nutrient uptake mechanisms in mistletoes have not been fully resolved.
To address the water and nutrient relations in mistletoes compared with their hosts, we measured 11 nutrient elements, two isotope ratios and two leaf morphological traits for 11 mistletoe and 104 host species from four sites across a large environmental gradient in southwest China.
Mistletoes had significantly higher phosphorus, potassium, and boron concentrations, nitrogen isotope ratio, and lower carbon isotope ratio (δ13C) indicative of lower water-use efficiency than hosts, but other elements were similar to those in hosts. Sites explained most of the variation in the multidimensional trait space. With increasing host nitrogen concentration, both mistletoe δ13C and the difference between mistletoe and host δ13C increased, providing evidence to support the ‘nitrogen parasitism hypothesis. Host nutrient concentrations were the best predictors for that of the mistletoe nutrient elements in most cases.
Our results highlight the important roles of environmental conditions and host nutrient status in determining mistletoe nutrient pools, which together explain their trophic interactions with hosts in subtropical and tropical ecosystems.