will a heavy pruning affect my truffiere?


A grower ask me the other week about if he maybe had pruned too much his truffle trees. He did it 2 years ago and yield dropped a lot last season and this season started poorly while other neighbor truffieres started with good fruitings.

Pruning is better to be done every year and light prune is better trying to remove less than 30% of branches. When we do a heavy pruning this may turn tree into a negative feedback due to hormones function:

Auxins (plant hormones) produced in the twig’s terminal buds stimulate root growth. Gibberellins (plant hormones) produced in the root tip stimulate canopy growth.
The tree balances root growth versus canopy growth by these hormones.
Excessive pruning may reduce auxins, slowing root growth, so decreasing gibberellins is followed by a decline in the canopy caused by the reduced root growth.




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Barcelona Truffle Tour seminars coming soon!


images from the Barcelona truffle Tour

We are excited as the first of our truffle farming seminars in Spain for this season are just coming.

DATES are 12TH-17TH DECEMBER 2016 AND 6TH-11TH FEBRUARY 2017, but note that february tour is almost sold out and there are just 3 places left for december. So if you still want to join, contact us now.

One of the new features this year is the workshop about aromatic profiles and post harvest treatments that Dr. Pedro Marco Montori will develop. He´s a researcher at Zaragoza University. His PhD was focused on post harvest truffle treatments, so you´ll be able to compare liofilizated vs. heated vs. wax coatings on truffles, analyze how truffles breathe at different temperatures, and learn and understand the complexity of truffle aroma.

If you want to see some of his scientific papers on this topic, check his research gate profile.

And if you want to see what we do in these seminars, just get in http://barcelonatruffletour.com

Apologize as it is in spanish, but in this just published chilean review (page 16), you can check about truffle post harvest protocols, mostly extracted from Pedro´s research: https://issuu.com/nuevocampo/docs/nc__edicio__n_2

Looking forward to meet you in Barcelona soon🙂


Marcos S. Morcillo & Xavier Vilanova



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New data to water our melanosporum truffiere

watering truffle trees

One of the most practical lectures at the last conference in Cahors was the one about irrigation in black truffle orchards done by Carlos Colinas. For the first time we get some specific data about it. Congrats to the whole team!

They already published a work where they showed as the first years for Quercus ilex to water 50% of potential evapotranspiration increased black truffle mycorrhization in your trees. This 50% equals to a water potential from -1,5 MPa and -o,35 MPa.

In a 22 years old evergreen oak plantation in Teruel they set 3 watering regimes. This is 32 l/m2 every 2-3-5 weeks and they harvested more truffles when watering every 2 weeks.

Results show how it is better to do not leave water potential to drop below -1 MPa for more than one week during the summer.

During the questions and discussion after Colinas speech, Gilberto Bragato made a quite interesting appreciation: he said that water potential is directly related to soil pore sizes, so some water potential made possible to plant roots to absorb water but not to small fungal mycelium or bacteria that may be 3microns diameter…

If anyone interested just found this table with the relations:


Here you can see another unit, the water potential (pF) that was as well used by Le Tacon, who found that when pF3 or pF4 no truffles fruit.

BTW, now that we are in Tuber magnatum season, Gilberto Bragato just made a reiew of soil characteristics for this truffle. See reference at the bottom.

As a conclusion for the mycorrhizae it looks that a dry “window” at mid summer may be good, but for truffle fruiting this research shows that a stress period in summer is no good at all.


Marcos S. Morcillo


Oliach, D., Fischer, C. R., Colinas, C. (2016). Soil water potential relation to truffle productivity. In: Abstract book of The eighth international workshop on edible mycorrhizal mushrooms (IWEMM8). Oral presentation. 10-17 october 2016, Cahors, France.

Le Tacon F, Delmas J, Gleyze R, Bouchard D (1982) Influence du régime hydrique du sol et de la fertilisation sur la fructification de la truffe noire du Perigord (Tuber melanosporum Vitt.) dans le Sud-Est de la France. Acta Oecol-Oec Appl 3:291–306

Soil Characteristics for Tuber magnatum (2016) True Truffle (Tuber spp.) in the World. Volume 47 of the series Soil Biology pp 191-209

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black truffle may infect too herbs and shrubs

Juniperus in Tuber melanosporum truffiere

Elisa Taschen presented in the last conference in Cahors a work titled “Tri-partite interactions between the black truffle (Tuber melanosporum), the holm oak (Quercus ilex) and herbaceous truffle-grounds plants in mesocosm”

In this work they detected by DNA T. melanosporum on roots of the 30 endomycorrhizal plants but they could not prove intra-radical colonization.

We know that black truffle fruits sometimes right under several endomycorrhizal plants, like rosemary, thyme, juniper, Arbutus unedo, but we thought that maybe in wild truffieres it was the only place with shade or where some humidity can be kept in the middle of a sunny brule. But it looks that these plants may promote the development of truffle mycelium and maybe by extension the nutritional status of the host oak tree, through indirect plant-plant interactions.

From our latest research on biodiversity on truffieres, it seems increasingly certain that we need to look the truffiere as a whole ecosystem. The challenge is to manage this in intensive orchards, but easier on small scale or “boutique” plantations.


Marcos S. Morcillo


Whose truffle is this? Distribution patterns of ectomycorrhizal fungal diversity in Tuber melanosporum brûlés developed in multi-host Mediterranean plant communities

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How last truffle season has been in the southern hemisphere?

black truffle orchard in Australia
Australia is becoming a large stakeholder of black truffle world wide market. With over 13 tones of black truffles produced last season, from which have been marketed over 9 tones.
East coast prices have been high, around AU$1500 a kg average, but west coast prices from larger growers have been from AU$750-1000 a kg.
So the large west growers estimates the industry to be AU$ 8 million at the farm gate!
The big difference from coast to coast, from large growers to “boutique” ones, could make non viable economically small plantations.
In New Zealand, regarding official information form the NZTA:
“NZTA has no collated information on the amount of melanosporum, brumale, borchii, and burgundy produced.  We would love to have that information.  But alas, it is not easy to extract this from growers.  We are expecting to have a better understanding in the near future.  The brumale production strongly depends on truffières some have abundant burmale, some have a mixture of melanosporum and brumale, some have melanosporum only.  What is certain is that there are growing quantities (a few 100s of kg is our educated estimate) of melanosporum being produced almost all over New Zealand.

Furthermore, to quote Alexis Guerin-Laguette, our technical representatitve: “All I can say is that I have seen many more melanosporum than brumale truffles in my time in NZ, especially in the recent years.  This is true also of mycorrhizae_ on al high number of tested trees, I find mycorrhizae of melanosporum much more ofthen than those of brumale.”
In South Africa there are just 3 orchards producing but just one of them produced almost a kilo a week.
In Chile, season started to go down at mid august and ended by 10th september.
The estimated crop has been of 150 kilos, so raising quite fast from the estimated 60kilos harvested last year. It could easily double next year.
Note most of the 400 hectares of truffle orchards in Chile are still young, so just 50 of those have started to fruit, and just 4 of them with commercial crops between 20 and 40 kilos/hectare.
And in Argentina, there is a large truffiere (50 hectares) that just started to produce so will get some kilos in the future…
Thanks to Fred Harden and Javier Rozas for their updates on Australia and Chile.
Marcos S. Morcillo
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more insights about black truffle reproduction

copyright from doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/073650

Image copyright from doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/073650

Just back from the IWEMM8 in France, with plenty of topics to discuss in this Blog. Two new papers help us to understand how black truffle reproduces sexually.

Understanding the sex life of truffles is fundamental to understanding truffle production. Let me remind you that has been found that mycorrhizae and the mycelium that comes from them is always female (positive or negative, but female), and that the male partner of the black truffle has never been found or seen, so we think it could be a dwarf or a temporally partner that does not last in the soil. We have not seen it but by definition it should exist for sexual reproduction to happen.

We knew that black truffle was hermaphrodite (♂ & ♀), so when spores germinated they could become male or female, depending on conditions.  I.e. if a positive spore germinates in an area where the mycelium that surrounds, that is always female, is positive as well, then that spore will germinate as a female. But if a positive spore germinates in an area where the mycelium is negative (and always female), then may germinate as a male, so sexual reproduction may happen.

But a new publication from Herminia de la Varga shows that hermaphroditism although is present in black truffle is not the most frequent. There is a male/female specialization as well. So trioecy exists in black truffle.

So female-fertile genotypes as mycorrhizas, and male-fertile genotypes as soil free-living mycelium.

Elisa Taschen group published a parallel paper where they postulate that germlings from the soil spore bank act as paternal partners.


Marcos S. Morcillo


Herminia de la Varga et al. 2016.Investigation of the sexual reproduction strategy of the Perigord black truffle (Tuber melanosporum Vittad.) revealed trioecy.
Taschen et al. 2016. How the truffle got its mate: insights from genetic structure in spontaneous and planted Mediterranean populations of Tuber melanosporum
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Metagenomics and diversity in truffieres


I think I never stayed so long without writing a post. Apologize for that. The South African trip has been long and busy🙂

I´m just preparing the lecture I will do in Cahors in 2 weeks and re-checking all the data we got from one of our latest research, and its a lot of fun trying to digest it and extract conclusions.

Let me attach here a couple of the slides. We did several metagenomic analysis on truffieres, using Ion Torrent technique. This is, we amplify and sequence all fungal DNA from brûles. It´s amazing the huge biodiversity in a place where almost no weeds may grow…


Because every truffle growers is using spanish wells to add mating types to the soil, we did another experiment adding 3 truffle spores doses and inoculating in two different months and later quantifying the total truffle mycelium and again if the biodiversity has changed in the brûle, and we can see how the percentage or frequency of Tuber sequences change depending on treatments!

The results have a direct application in the development of new technologies for truffle farming:

-traceability of fungal mycelium

-methods to increase yields

-to evaluate the effects of different managements in beneficial microbial communities for the ecosystem (biodiversity).

As metagenomic results are quantitative, this technique may be useful for studies on diversity dynamics after plantation management, as well as to identify fungal species associated (positively or negatively) to Tuber persistence. I.e. when we compare productive and non productive trees, we see like Scleroderma is significantly more present, with 17% of the DNA sequences, in productive trees (see slide 2).

See you in Cahors!

All the best from Barcelona!

Marcos S. Morcillo


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new aussie record truffle, why?

huge australian black truffle

I take this post to say congrats to Stuart Dunbar for the huge truffle harvested at his plantation close to Melbourne, more than one kilo and a half of truffle is a lot! I´ve had in my hands one slightly over half a kilo but I can just maybe get the feeling of digging up one like that.

After this news comes to my head the great short film that already started years ago in this blog, maybe Stuart you felt like him😉
A Bout de Truffe (The Truffle Hunter) part 1 of 2
A Bout de Truffe (The Truffle Hunter) part 2 of 2

I recommend his blog where he explains what happens on his plantation:

When I visited his plantation three years ago the ground was very heavy, heavy clay in some patches, actually a clay percentage that normally advise against because causes compaction, asfixia and rot in truffles.
This plantation as many in Australia, Chile or South Africa started from quite a low pH which was heavily modified with over a hundred tons of lime a hectare.
Rechecking this particular ground we increasingly clear that the black truffle can grow in many soils and to put some limits on certain parameters becomes meaningless. Just Stuart knows what he had done in orchard management, but clay if well managed can produce huge truffles as already seen before in Australia.

I write this post from South Africa where I will be several weeks for work and some vacations as well, so the frequency of posts will be lower than usual.

pinus pinea in South Africa

I put a photo that I’ve done to my family in a centenary stone pine (Pinus pinea). Surprised how well this species has been naturalized in this region of the Western Cape. Is there any truffle hunter who feels like coming with a truffle dog in the area to search for Tuber borchii? there are large stone pine forests over sandy soil, and in several areas, limy.

Marcos Morcillo

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We´ll present a paper in the next IWEMM in Cahors, France OCT2016


The scientific committee just accepted us a research paper to be presented at the next International Workshop on Edible Mycorrhiza Mushrooms (IWEMM) in Cahors, France.

We´ll present the results of a research project done in collaboration with the Dr. Xavier Parladé and Dr. Joan Pera, from IRTA (Barcelona). I hope to see you there this october!


Marcos S. Morcillo


Marcos Morcillo1, Javier Parladé2, Joan Pera2, Mónica Sanchez1, Xavier Vilanova1

Key words: Management of natural and cultivated populations, Tuber melanosporum, Real Time PCR, Ion-Torrent, truffiere biodiversity, seasonal mycelium quantification

This study had three main objectives: 1) to evaluate the seasonal dynamics of Tuber melanosporum mycelium in a plantation, 2) to develop and validate a system to reinoculate black truffle in pre-productive orchards and 3) to determine fungal biodiversity in black truffle truffieres on productive trees, reinoculated trees and outside the brûles.

The quantitative detection of T. melanosporum mycelium in the soil was carried out by qPCR following the method described by Parladé et al. (2013) in five samples collected seasonally throughout an entire year. For fungal biodiversity studies we performed total DNA extraction and massive sequencing using the ion-TorrentTM platform.

The results showed seasonal differences in distribution of black truffle mycelium in the soil. In winter surveys and early spring less mycelium was detected in the soil as compared to summer. We interpret that the mycelium is more abundant during periods of active growth of the tree, although with some delay in spring as probably Quercus ilex uses its own sugars for growth before feeding through the truffle mycelium. We found higher mycelium concentrations in producing than in non-producing trees.

In the determinations of fungal biodiversity in the soil we obtained 379,281 fungal sequences corresponding to a range between 17,000 and 42,000 sequences for each of the eight treatments considered. These sequences were identified to distinguish the effect of treatments on the saprophytic and symbiotic fungal communities.

The results have a direct application in the development of new technologies for truffle farming. In particular, the traceability of fungal mycelium (services), methods to increase yields (innovation) and to evaluate the effects of different managements in beneficial microbial communities for the ecosystem (biodiversity).

Reference: Parladé et al. 2013. Quantification of extraradical mycelium of Tuber melanosporum in soils from truffle orchards in Northern Spain. Mycorrhiza (2013) 23:99–106.


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Growing black truffles in Greece

Last week we analyzed with Real Time PCR several soil samples from one of the black truffle plantations we have in Greece. In this case north of Greece, close to the border to Bulgaria.

There are several host trees in this truffle plantation, Quercus pubescens, Quercus ilex and Quercus coccifera (local seed origin), but the host tree with higher concentration of truffle mycelium was the downy oak,  with 1,96mg of Tuber melanosporum mycelium/gram of soil.

Black truffle farming in Greece has a great potential with several orchards already fruiting. Moreover, Tuber borchii can be found almost everywhere in the country, from the pine forests of the hills overlooking the sea, practically 50-100meters of altitude in sandy grounds and in oaks and pines higher in the mountains. Prices paid per kilo in Greece typically for bianchetto around 150€/kg to the harvester.

But the most exciting news is that Tuber magnatum is quite well distributed as well in Greece. Since I posted about it 3 years ago https://trufflefarming.wordpress.com/2013/10/13/tuber-magnatum-also-found-in-greece/  now several hunters are gathering this white truffle along the country. It looks magnatum enjoy the south eastern areas of Europe, not just Croatia and Bosnia…


Marcos S. Morcillo

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