Mycorrhizal Fungi of Vanilla and their Use in Vanilla Cultivation
Dr. Paul Bayman
Depto de Biología
Universidad de Puerto Rico – Río Piedras.
Like all orchids, Vanilla plants associate with mycorrhizal fungi. These fungi are essential for seed germination. They are also frequently found in the roots of adult plants, where they contribute nutrients. So which fungi associate with Vanilla, and are they useful for Vanilla cultivation and production? We isolated mycorrhizal fungi from Vanilla plants in Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, and other countries, both wild plants and from commercial farms. Fungi were identified by DNA sequencing. Experiments show that mycorrhizal fungi differ in their ability to stimulate Vanilla seed germination and growth. They may have the potential to control damage by Fusarium and other pathogens, though this has not yet been demonstrated in Vanilla.
Dr. Paul Bayman (Gupta) is Professor of Biology at the University of Puerto Rico – Río Piedras. He has a BA in Biology from Carleton College and a PhD in Botany from UC Berkeley. Most of his research is on fungi and fungal-plant interactions, and in the last few years, on the coffee berry borer. He has worked extensively on mycorrhizae of tropical orchids, including Vanilla.