Nutritional changes associated with the evolution of achlorophyllous, mycoheterotrophic plants have not been inferred within a robust phylogenetic framework. Motomura et al. examine variations in heterotrophy in association with the evolution of leaflessness using a chlorophyllous/achlorophyllous species pair in Cymbidium (Orchidaceae) and demonstrate that mycoheterotrophy evolved after the establishment of mixotrophy rather than through direct shifts from autotrophy to mycoheterotrophy. This may be one of the principal patterns in the evolution of mycoheterotrophy.
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