Some bacteria and active organic compounds boost truffles mycelium

We tested 8 bacteria strains + 6 organic compounds on nursery and truffle plantations

My partner Dr. Xavier Vilanova just gave a lecture about the new results from a joint research project we do with IRTA in Barcelona.

As you´ll see in the embed lecture we tested 8 bacteria strains and 6 organic compounds and quantify 3 months later the concentration of black truffle mycelium on each trial.

Main conclusions are:

• Each stage (age) of the plant has a different reaction for each treatment.

• In nursery phase, 11 of the 14 treatments generated a positive effect on the

concentration of mycelium. Mainly two organic substances (TR11 and

TR12) and a bacterial strain (TR9).

• In plantation of 3.5 years old: all treatments generated a positive effect on the

concentration of truffle mycelium in the soil. Mainly two organic substances

(TR14 and TR15) and two bacterial strains (I TR9 TR6). These trees have started as well to produce truffles while the others don´t. So there is a significative correlation between the treatment, the concentration of truffle mycelium and later black truffle fruitings.

• In 10 years old plantation 5 to 14 treatments generated a positive effect on the

concentration of truffle mycelium in the soil, all organic substances

(TR10,11,13,14 I15).

Bellow you can see a picture of one tree in the trial farm, where last week we just found a black truffle under a just 2 year old Quercus ilex



Marcos S. Morcillo & Xavier Vilanova

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New results from our research with “spanish wells” with black truffle spores


Last week we have organized with the IRTA (Institute of Research in Agronomic Technologies) a workshop to show the results of our latests join research on truffles.

I embed here my lecture with the results. We quantified black truffle mycelium after “spanish wells” inoculation, with different spore dosis and at different months.

Main conclusions are:

. Drip irrigation system seems not to favour truffle mycelium expansion in soil. 3 logarithms below outside humidity bubble.

• Seasonal differences in distribution of black truffle mycelium in the soil. Seasonal pattern dependent from water or irrigation.

• Significative more Tuber mycelium concentration and sequences in productive trees.

• Idem for Scleroderma. Could it be a positive partner specie?

• April inoculations increase Tuber sp. sequences and mycelium concentration in june, as compared to controls non-inoculated, reaching same levels of sequences than when inoculated in june at 5grams. BUT for agronomic reasons it should be better to inoculate in april, as we mostly do mechanically with tractors over the brulê, in order not to disturb the active mycelium in june.

This is an example of a tool that can be adapted for truffle farming:

. We detect significative more mycelium 2 months after reinoculations, probably due to sporal germination. The main problem nowadays is that we normally make the “spanish wells” with truffle spores right after the truffle season in ended (in norther hemisphere from 15th march) and sometimes the soil is too wet because it rains in spring, so some growers delay this task to avoid compacting the ground. This makes that when truffle spores germinate is too late for a “male mycelium” to do fecundation, and this is why most “spanish wells” produce truffles 2 winters later. Although this is just a theory that need to be proven. We are working on that 😉

A way could be to add truffle spores to the soil before the end of march, but in productive orchards we cannot do it with a tractor as we would damage truffles already in the soil. This is why some growers start adding substrates with spores in each hole where they found a truffle…


Marcos S. Morcillo




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New standards to market truffles in Europe


It has just been published the new standards to market and quality control of fresh truffles, not including truffles to be processed for industry.

You can download the full document in the next link:

NORME CEE-ONU FFV-53 concernant la commercialisation et le contrôle de la qualité commerciale des TRUFFES



let me give you some updates about truffle season in Spain, which is the worst in decades, with almost no wild truffle in the woods. As always we don´t really know why, we come from the driest winter, so trees hardly sprout last spring and moreover spring and early summer was so warm…who knows…

If you want to keep updated with prices and volumens, follow my partner Dr. Xavier Vilanova every monday´s twit

Quantities are low and in large areas in Catalonia fog has stayed for over a month with continued temperatures around 0ºC. This has lead to damage shallow truffles and not sure how trees will be affected as fog is still there.


Marcos S. Morcillo


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Pines will produce Lactarius fruit bodies inside our nurseries!

saffron milk cap mushroom cultivated

Lactarius deliciosus fruiting in a pot from a mycorrhized pine seedling

We are happy these Christmas as we´ll be starting a new research project. This is the mycorrhization of pines with an specific Lactarius delicious strain who produces fruit bodies inside our nurseries, right on the pots!

This strain has been isolated by the team at IRTA and the project have been granted with a Torres Quevedo fund from the spanish Government for 3 years. Here a couple of pics of the mycelium growing on pure culture:

safrron mil cap mushroom mycelia

We are so happy as well because of this project    a new member is joining our team full time: she is Herminia de la Varga, who comes from the Nancy lab at INRA, in France, and she will coordinate the Lactarius project plus our DNA lab.

If you want to check her latests papers and researches, check her profile at Researchgate.

You can download her PhD Thesis where she developed the firsts quantitative tools with DNA to monitor truffles, porcini and saffron milk cap mushrooms on soil:

Welcome Herminia and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!

Marcos S. Morcillo


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more light on the reproduction cycle of the black truffle (Tuber melanosporum)


I was preparing a lecture for our growers seminars (Barcelona Truffle Tour) and rechecking this recent study presented at the last conference in Cahors and published in the journal Molecular Ecology and produced by a team of the National Museum of Natural History, with the CNRS and the University of Montpellier, gives more light on the reproduction cycle of the black truffle (Tuber melanosporum).

The french truffle season, like in Spain is pretty bad, mostly to the lack of rain in summer, but probably the dry spring that made trees to sprout weakly. Hunters say it will be one of the worst in years. Moreover in this paper they states that the spontaneous sites represent only 20% of the production.
Truffles results from a fertilization between two very different individuals: the first, large, considered as the mother, is associated with the roots of neighboring trees. It persists from year to year and nourishes the truffle. The second, considered the father, is smaller, annual, and not associated with tree roots. It could result from the germination of a non-dispersed spore, or a kind of male that survives only to fertilize a better installed individual.
The planting of inoculated trees did not change the genetic diversity of black truffle populations compared to wild sites. Thus, genes circulate freely between these environments. In one detail: in plantation, the number of fathers is higher and they are more genetically varied, perhaps because of spore intakes, voluntary or not, during truffle treatments.
There is a geographic variability of genetic diversity in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, which is still preserved in plantations. This suggests that the provenances of the inoculated trees should not be mixed too much if it is desired to preserve local genetic characteristics of the black truffle.


Marcos S. Morcillo

Molecular Ecology – How the truffle got its mate: insights from genetic structure in spontaneous and planted Mediterranean populations of Tuber melanosporum, par Taschen E., Rousset F., Sauve.M, Benoit L. Dubois M.-P., Richard F., Selosse M.-A.
DOI: 10.1111/mec.13864
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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

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:

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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