The main difference between epiphytes and endophytes is that epiphytes grow on the surface of plant organs, while endophytes grow by penetrating plant organs.
Epiphytes and endophytes are two types of organisms that live on plants. However, epiphytes are plants growing on plants, while endophytes are bacteria and fungi that live in plants.
Key Areas Covered
1. What are Epiphytes
– Definition, Features, Importance
2. What are Endophytes
– Definition, Features, Importance
3. Similarities – Epiphytes and Endophytes
– Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Epiphytes and Endophytes
– Comparison of Key Differences
What are Epiphytes
Epiphytes are plants or plant-like organisms that grow on the surface of another plant. Epiphytes derive their moisture and nutrients from air, rain, and debris accumulating around them. The plants on which the epiphytes live are called phorophytes. Epiphytes take part in nutrient cycles and add diversity and biomass to the environment. In addition, they produce food for some animals. Typically, old plants have many epiphytes growing on them. However, epiphytes only take physical support from the plant. Therefore, they do not affect the growth and development of the plants.
Furthermore, epiphytes mainly occur in temperate zones. Other than plants, many mosses, lichens, liverworts, and algae also live as epiphytes. In the tropics, many ferns, cacti, orchids, and bromeliads grow as epiphytes. Due to their minimal water and nutrient requirements, epiphytes are good as houseplants. Most importantly, epiphytes provide a rich habitat for organisms like animals, fungi, and bacteria.
What are Endophytes
Endophytes are endosymbionts, which are bacteria and fungi that live in plants. Endophytes do not cause apparent diseases in the plant. The main importance of endophytes in plants is that they enhance plant growth, improve the plant’s ability to nutrient acquisition, tolerate abiotic stress, and enhance plant resistance to pathogens, herbivores, and insects. Endophytes are transmitted vertically (directly from parent to offspring) or horizontally (among individuals). Therefore, endophytes transmit from plant to offspring through seeds vertically.
Moreover, the relationship between the plant and endophytes is mutualism. Endophytes protect the plant from pathogens, diseases, water stress, heat stress, poor soil quality, nutrient requirements, salinity, and herbivory. Moreover, endophytes receive carbon for their energy from plants. Potentially, endophytic fungi can become saprophytes and pathogens when the plant is under stress.
Similarities Between Epiphytes and Endophytes
- Epiphytes and endophytes are two types of organisms that live on plants.
- They take water and nutrients with the help of the plant.
Difference Between Epiphytes and Endophytes
Epiphytes refer to a plant that grows on another plant, especially one that is not parasitic, such as the numerous ferns, bromeliads, air plants, and orchids growing on tree trunks in tropical rainforests, while endophytes refer to a plant, especially a fungus, which lives inside another plant.
Epiphytes grow on the surface of plant organs, while endophytes grow by penetrating plant organs.
Types of organisms
While epiphytes are plants, endophytes can be bacteria or fungi.
Epiphytes do not take water or nutrients from the plant, while endophytes take nutrients from the plant.
In brief, epiphytes and endophytes are two types of organisms that grow on plants. Epiphytes grow on the surface of plants without taking water or nutrients from the plant. They are mainly plants. In comparison, endophytes grow, penetrating the plant. They are bacteria and fungi that take nutrients and water from the plant. So, this is the main difference between epiphytes and endophytes.
- “Epiphyte.” Encyclopædia Britannica.
- Gouda, S., Das, G., Sen, S. K., Shin, H.-S., & Patra, J. K. “Endophytes: A treasure house of bioactive compounds of medicinal importance.” Frontiers.