Many orchid species are vulnerable or threatened, and sustainable populations rely on seedling recruitment. Seed packet techniques have made it possible to study the minute and mycotrophic early-stage seedlings in situ. Rasmussen et al. survey 20 years of progress and note that the germination niche for orchids is extremely complex, because it is defined by requirements not only for seed lodging and germination, but also for presence of a fungal host and its substrate. Complexity is furthermore increased when these factors influence seeds/seedling, fungi and fungal substrate differentially. They conclude that a better understanding of germination and seedling establishment is clearly needed for conservation of orchid populations.
A better understanding of germination and seedling establishment is needed for the conservation of vulnerable or threatened orchid populations.