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Diversity and Roles of Mycorrhizal Fungi in the Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera

Mycorrhiza is a crucial symbiotic association between the roots of plants and fungi within the soil environment. The specificity in these partnerships, particularly of the fungal partner is still poorly understood. Orchids require symbiotic fungi in a mycorrhizal association for seed germination and establishment, typically species within the Tulasnellaceae and Ceratobasidiaceae. The distribution of suitable mycorrhizal fungi will therefore affect the distribution of orchid plants. The bee orchid (Ophrys apifera) is considered common in southern England but is less frequent in the north. It has a conspicuous flower spike with individual flowers resembling bees. The species is surprisingly common in urban reclaimed ground where rubble provides suitable well-drained, alkaline and low nutrient conditions.