Xylem-Tapping Mistletoes: Water or Nutrient Parasites?

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Science  22 Mar 1985:
Vol. 227, Issue 4693, pp. 1479-1481
DOI: 10.1126/science.227.4693.1479


Most mistletoes parasitize higher plants by tapping the xylem (a conduction tissue) of their hosts. Field observations of diurnal gas exchange parameters and carbon isotope ratios in xylem-tapping mistletoes from three continents support the hypotheses that water use efficiency and carbon isotope composition are related and that mistletoes which are parasitic for water are also nutrient parasites, differing in their water use efficiency relative to that of their hosts on the basis of host nitrogen supply in the transpiration stream.