How many baby truffles are formed per square meter?


Tuber melanosporum sexuality reproduction by micofora

We just wrote a chapter for a new book that will be published soon about pests and diseases of truffle trees in Spain. We wanted to update the truffle sexuality figure we made for our last book “Truffle Farming Today” with the new discoverings on truffle reproduction, and you can see here the new one!

In a mature truffle plantation, at a root level, there is a non-random distribution of the MATs (sexually compatible mycelia), that is, the mycorrhizae of a tree tend to belong to the same MAT.
Moreover, the mycelium that forms the mycorrhizae acts always as a maternal part.
In the enlargement it is observed how the truffles are formed, mostly, when a spore germinates and the mycelium acts as a paternal part fertilizing the maternal mycelium associated with a mycorrhiza of the complementary MAT.

We talked in an earlier post about how in some large multilobulated fruit bodies, each lobe belongs to a different paternal individual, that mostly comes from truffle spores.

Most truffles are formed sometime between May and July. It seems that at more latitude (colder areas), fertilization occurs later. But do we know how many baby truffles get formed per square meter? you´ll get surprised to know that a new research not published yet found, sieving the soil, that 104 truffle primordia were found per m2!

Unfortunately, most of these baby truffles get eaten by insects, dry up or get rotten before they mature properly.

This has been done by Pacioni, the same author who used the ground penetrating radars to screen the soil looking for baby truffles.

Cheers,

Marcos S. Morcillo

References:

Pacioni G et al. 2014 Instrumental monitoring of the birth and development of truffles in a Tuber melanosporum orchardMycorrhiza.

 

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a new book about truffles has been published


new book about truffles Le Tacon

 

Just finished to read this great new book about truffles, wrote by our friend:

François Le Tacon: Les truffes – Biologie, écologie et domestication

It must be difficult to try to compile 40 years of research on truffles, but he found a way to make a rigorous text while easy to read at the same time. He combines some of the latests papers published i.e. about how truffle feeds with the fundamentals and basic functioning of the mycorrhiza.

I enjoyed as en example, the “principle of the hydraulic elevator” that explains how transport of nocturnal water from the deep layers of the ground to the most superficial takes place thanks to the roots maintaining a good hydric state of the fungal structures.

It is completely updated on the sexual reproduction of the truffle, plus there is a chapter on the different stages of development of the fruit body with lovely microscope pictures of each one.

Half of the book is about truffle farming and devotes several pages to irrigation and control the water status of truffle plantations. A chapter about growing burgundy and sumer truffle, with figures about real yields per hectare from several plantations.

By now it is just edited in french, but probably there will be an english edition soon.

Congrats François! I learnt a lot!

Marcos S. Morcillo

 

 

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New data on the hazel and Tuber borchii project in Catalonia


hazel mycorrhized with white truffle micofora

We have just analyzed root samples of in vitro produced Dundee hazel trees that we inoculated two years ago with Tuber borchii.

Dundee hazels are an in vitro hybrid between the europen hazel (Corylus avellana) and the turkish one (C. colurna), that is more vigorous and almost does not produce suckers.

“This is an experimental test in order to get hazel mycorrhized trees under non sterile conditions. Note our standard commercial trees are always produced under sterile conditions in pots in a controlled environment like following pic of these Dundee right after repotting”:

dunde hazels at micofora´s truffle nursery .jpg-large

We did 2 tests: Some hazels spent a year in a pot before planted out in soil at Coselva´s nursery (see pic above); and a second group were directly planted on the soil during 2 years. The results indicate a higher percentage of mycorrhizae in the hazelnuts that were first potted (48-72%) than in those that were placed directly on the soil (0-38%).

A third test was done, using 2 yrs. old commercial hazels without truffle that were inoculated with a T. borchii “root dip” at the out planting time in spring 2015. In this case we sampled hazelnuts to which they had applied fertilizer and another group in which they did not. The results have been a persistence and even increase of borchii mycorrhizal levels detected a year ago, being higher in the case of non-fertilized hazelnuts (65-80%) than in fertilized hazelnuts (30-43%).

Cheers,

Xavier Vilanova

 

 

 

 

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Can Rhizoculture Improve Agricultural and Forestry Systems?


paper about rhizoculture - micofora

We are happy to announce that has been published the paper we collaborated to write about rhizoculture as a chapter from the book: M. Lukac, P. Grenni and M. Gambon i (eds.), Soil biological communities and ecosystem resilience, 46–74. © 2017 Springer.
Towards Integrated Understanding of the Rhizosphere Phenomenon as Ecological Driver: Can Rhizoculture Improve Agricultural and Forestry Systems?. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319671308_Towards_Integrated_Understanding_of_the_Rhizosphere_Phenomenon_as_Ecological_Driver_Can_Rhizoculture_Improve_Agricultural_and_Forestry_Systems [accessed Oct 19 2017].

 

 

 

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How 2017 black truffle season has gone in the Southern Hemisphere?


truffle growing countries in the South Hemisphere

  1. TRUFFLE FARMING IN AUSTRALIA

The Australian harvest has been quite impressive, even the driest winter in some areas and warmest in early winter, but it looks truffles were not affected and growers are watering well. Feedback from growers was extremely good across the country with lots of reports of people doubling their production this year.

Growers conservatively estimate production for the season to be more than 20 tones.  This a impressive compared to the 13 tones from last year.  This high production has not been without problems, growers complain about getting smaller truffles than previous seasons and particularly with dumping of truffles at low prices by provedores in both Australia and overseas.  
I think I already post a link to this french report on prices on truffles, with australian prices imports, just in case here is again:

http://www.franceagrimer.fr/content/download/51148/491610/file/Truffe%20-Présentation%20Commerce%20extérieur%20au%2010052017.pdf

West Australians expect an additional 20 – 40 tonnes will be produced in Australia within 5-10 years. This is what Spain produces in a good year!

Thanks for the updates to some growers from the http://trufflegrowers.com.au

Here a link of the Wine and Truffle Co newsletter with some interesting articles about the last season

2. TRUFFLE FARMING IN CHILE

There are over 60 truffle growers, 30 of them into the Chilean Truffle Growers association. Over 600 hectares planted.
The estimate production for the season has been 500kilos in total. 300kg has been exported to USA and Brasil mainly and 200kg sold on domestic market or used for inoculum.
The Growers association thinks next year production may double and in 5 years chilean production may raise up to 5-7 tons.
Truffles harvested with plenty of aroma, good quality in general.
A nice article in this link: http://revistagrupoagro.cl/trufas/

 

3. ARGENTINA

 

There is a 50 hectare plantation that has started production.  25 ha of that one have plants of up to 5 years and the other 25 ha where the oldest plants are 3 years old. Both plantations have 50% Quercus Robur and 50% Quercus Ilex. The hazelnuts did not adapt well.

Total Argentina is estimated about 85 ha planted with estimated total crop for this season   35 kilos. Thank you for update to Trufas del Nuevo Mundo, the producer with the largest planted area in the country.

4. SOUTH AFRICA

 

Season 2017 has been very encouraging for farmers, harvested a total of 14,5 kg’s across the 5 producing farms, two of the farms are in second year production.
Production is improving steadily from last year, although growers are suffering from pests damage (slugs and millipedes) to the truffles. Note most farms in the area have mild winters so insect activity is higher.
All the production was sold locally to restaurants, chefs and hotels.  The selling price was 900 Euro/kg.
There are planted over 80 hectares and expecting to plant a further 120 hectares next year.
Thanks to Miros family and Mosbec Truffle Farms for their updates on this country.
Cheers,
Marcos S. Morcillo
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Truffle beetle pest Leiodes in Spain


Leiodes truffle beetle in Spain

From the Centro de Investigación y Tecnología Agroalimentaria del Gobierno de Aragón (CITA), has been just published a technical sheet about the main pest for the spanish truffle growers: the Leiodes beetle. You can download the document (just in spanish) in the following link:

Leiodes

This beetle has been tried to manage with pheromones traps massively, but damage on truffles is still so high. the pest is related to highly productive orchards and note in the last years with irrigation, most orchards have homogeneous crops, so the beetle population does not decrease.

Adult Leiodes feed from truffles and fly over the orchards looking for new truffles buried in the soil, thus dispersing spores and probably helping as well to spread sexes and truffle fertilization.

BTW, there´s a whole chapter about these truffle pests in our latest book “Truffle Farming Today”, and the chapter is available to download for free in this link:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/289508716_Truffles_Flies_and_Beatles_-_Suillia_and_Leiodes

Cheers,

Marcos S. Morcillo

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Truffle Farming in the West Coast of the USA


truffle plantation in Oregon

Last August and September we´ve been visiting truffle growers on the west coast of the USA. We took the opportunity to give a lecture to the western Truffle Growers Association, where more than 30 met and talked about the latest truffle research and sexuality discoveries and their implications in the field. Thanks Karen & Jim to host the event in Santa Rosa!

Marcos Morcillo did a lecture for the USA truffle Growers

Very few plantations have entered production on the West coast and sporadically. The most 4 kilos of truffles in Oregon. here a link of a news from last march March: http://www.sfchronicle.com/wine/article/Ground-breaking-truffle-find-is-start-of-11042400.php

I normally visit the area in winter or spring and it was great to be there during summer, and I got amazed how hot can be in some areas south of San Francisco, where temperatures reached 110ºF during the day (and it´s common to reach 100ºF). Under these conditions the black truffle will need more shade than normal, and also water, a scarce commodity in some counties, which are limited to 6000m3 per farm, regardless of its area. If we consider that there is no rain in summer, possibly the consumption of water in a mature plantation will exceed 2000m3 / hectare or 225.000 gallons/acre during the whole summer which may limit the existence of large plantations.

Although most of the plantations we´ve visited are in valleys like Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles … there are areas in the mountains east of Los Angeles at altitudes of about 1500-2000m that exactly match the climate (rainfall distribution and temps.) in which fructifies the black truffle in Spain.

Most plantations analyzed this year in the area (15) had very high levels of black truffle in their roots, even after more than 10-12 years in the field, with few contaminants. In many of these plantations there are pines or oaks around, however, the liming of the soils could create an environment not conducive to the development of native competing fungi. In several we have detected mycorrhizae of Scleroderma, Pisolithus, Laccaria, etc.

We have not detected better levels of mycorrhization in one host than in another. The same for the levels of mycelium concentration of truffle in soil, measured with Real Time PCR, ranging from 0.03mg of mycelium / gram of soil to 7.8mg / g in the highest. All concentrations are usually detected in already productive trees in Europe. Most of the trees used in the area are hazel, some evergreen hazelnuts, Q. robur (left next image) and its variety “fastigiata” (right in the photo) is the second most used and few Q. ilex and Q. pubescens.

black truffle english oak

On this trip we took samples of two plantations of Tuber aestivum as well, made at high density, about 1000 trees / ha. They were planted with the aim of creating a closed canopy as soon as possible and giving the conditions in which the burgundy truffle fruits in the center or north of Europe. However, it is not clear to me that Tuber aestivum will fruit in the fall in these plantations in California, because it is not cold enough and possibly these truffles will mature and be harvested in summer, so getting truffles of inferior quality that the burgundy or “uncinatum” one. We’ll see soon when they go into production. I think that if western american growers want to get the autumn variety of Tuber aestivum, they will better plant in northern latitudes in Oregon, Washington state or BC in Canada.

Cheers,

Marcos S. Morcillo

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5 years research on black truffle mothers and fathers


mothers come from mycorrhizae but truffle father from other sources

For the first time it has been possible to study genetically the female and the male factors in black truffles. In a study of our researcher Herminia de la Varga, while she was in a postdoc in the INRA, shows us the results after genetically analyzing for 5 years, 241 truffles and 475 mycorrhizae plus so many soil samples.

To understand how she recognized mothers and fathers, using molecular markers she read the mother’s DNA in the veins of the gleba. Later analyzed the spores and obtained two readings, that of the mother (which was the same as that of the white veins of the gleba) and a second reading that by discarding, was the father’s.

Although we have already advanced some conclusions of this extensive work, let us write in this post some more:

truffle inner structure male and female parts

The majority of parents (75%) were transient (they were only in a single truffle), but 16 parents were found in different truffles and in subsequent years and also they were the ones that produced more truffles (21% and 37%). One of them produced just himself 18 truffles (8.7% of the produced ones), and was found in truffles of two different trees 20 meters apart. So these fathers who produced truffles in different years can not come from spores who germinated.

Only 3 of these fathers were found as hermaphrodites in the mycorrhizae. From all this it is concluded that the fathers have little capacity to associate to the host tree and that there must be a mycelium that persists in the soil, sometimes associated with herbaceous plants and becomes a pool of fathers. However most fathers come from spores that germinate, and this explains the positive effect of the spanish wells with spores in the plantations.

It would be very interesting to isolate and study these persistent parents, who are at the same time the most producers.

Only 3 individuals (1.5% of those analyzed) found themselves acting both father and mother (hermaphrodite), although producing 55 truffles (27%), while most were detected acting only as father or mother (you will see in this and other articles as “dioecy” or “trioecy” when hermaphrodite is taking into account).

Reference:

I leave you a photo of Herminia de la Varga giving one of the invited lectures at ICOM9 two weeks ago in Prague, about the results of this work:

Cheers,

Marcos S. Morcillo

herminia de la Varga at ICOm9.jpg-large

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Black and summer truffle live as well associated to Herbaceous plants


black truffle new life cycle

July has been crazy and I could not find time to write in this Blog. Yesterday I flu from Barcelona to Cape Town and instead of watching films, I read some pending papers 😉 here some comments from them:

A french work of 2016 opens a new vision to the already complex biological cycle of the black truffle. We know that the truffle often fruits under certain shrubs (juniper, rosemary, thyme …) and that there are several herbaceous plants that tolerate brules. Now it´s been found with DNA techniques as black truffle mycelium is able to colonize the roots of certain plants and shrubs with which it does not create true mycorrhiza.

In this work, when analyzing a wild truffiere of Quercus ilex, they detected with PCR mycelium of black truffle in 74 roots of herbaceous plants, corresponding to half of the analyzed samples.

The majority of this mycelium (65%) found in herbal roots is the same as the maternal part of the truffles that were harvested around it, but there is a 25% that is not found in the collected truffles.

Grinder already found something similar for summer truffle. See reference.

They found as well something quite funny: truffle may have a single mother, but several parents! you probably have found sometimes huge truffles that looks like small single ones stuck to each other. They observed that these different parts of the truffle come from a different “father”, although they share the mother. It is as if different truffles together merge in their development. Not only did these “multilobulated” truffles have different parents, but several of the “mono lobular” (normal round truffle) presented different paternal individuals. Each lobe could be a different fertilization of the same mother!

This study also finds a high consanguinity in the truffles found in the same truffiere. Possibly because either the truffle is dispersed by an animal or because it rots in the soil, this causes that in the same place we find the two sexual types (maternal and paternal) coming from the spores that germinate as a maternal part or paternal part.

This work also shows how gene flow seems to be limited to the size of the brule. So mothers and fathers come in wild truffieres from physically close individuals. This would weaken the theory that some parents might come from “mobile spermatia”, such as conidia or spores of asexual reproduction found in some truffles like Tuber borchii, or maybe these conidia have a weak dispersion.

However these works are done in wild truffieres, and possibly as we expand these studies and sample sizes some of the results could change. Also, in plantations where the soil is worked and we add spanish wells with spores we could find different data or less consanguinity.

Cheers from South Africa, where we are for some projects 😉

Marcos S. Morcillo

References:

 

 

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update on truffle growing in America


 

truffle growing in Chile Nothofagus x Tuber

A couple of news have been just released that make a nice overview of the truffle farming industry in Chile and USA. I thought it could be nice to share it here:

Why Haven’t American Truffles Taken Root Yet?

and the Chilean one, where they describe the truffle industry in Chile for the last 10 years. Though it is in spanish language, but worth try the translator:

 «Una década del cultivo en Chile: la trufa comienzaa oler bien»

BTW, I´ll be in California again from 23rd august to 5th september 2017, just in case any local grower need anything…

Cheers,

Marcos S. Morcillo

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