PALMIERI, MARIA* and LUCINDA J. SWATZELL. Department of Biology, Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701. - Presence of VA mycorrhizae in the sporophytes of Cheilanthes feei and Cheilanthes lanosa.
Cheilanthes is a genus of xerophytic ferns. This is somewhat of
an oxymoron, since ferns typically inhabit moist environments.
However, Cheilanthes species are apogamous. This explains how
they can reproduce in dry habitats, but not how they can survive in
arid settings. One possible explanation is that Cheilanthes
species have morphological and physiological adaptations that enhance
their survival. For example, Cheilanthes feei and
Cheilanthes lanosa, two common and widespread North American
ferns, are characterized by tomentose or hirsute trichomes beneath
their pinnae. Another possible explanation for Cheilanthes'
ability to survive dry habitats is the formation of mycorrhizal
associations. In this study, we examined C. feei and C.
lanosa to investigate the potential presence and distribution of
mycorrhizal associations in these ferns. Without variation, VA
mycorrhizal structures were present in C. feei and C.
lanosa sporophyte roots. Results suggest that these common
Cheilanthes species survive, in part, through mycorrhizal
Key words: Cheilanthes feei, Cheilanthes lanosa, sporophytes, VA mycorrhizae