volatile compounds on truffles


In the last post I commented that the black truffle emits about 50 volatile compounds, those are at least the ones that have been detected in the laboratory. However, the human nose is more sensitive than current detectors on volatile substances, so in the coming years as they refine these devices, it is expected that the number of aromatic compounds on truffles will be increased.

We know for a long time that what attracts dogs and pigs is dimethyl sulfide, and ’cause this volatile compound is present in most truffles,  one dog can find several species. In fact, there are about 200 volatile compounds in truffles and some, such as 2-methyl 4.5-dihydrothiopheno, has only been found in Tuber borchii. The most important that we are just now beginning to glimpse, is that these volatile compounds are responsible not only for the aroma of truffles, but also for the interactions with the living tree and the other fungi and soil bacteria. They function as hormones and messengers in establishing mycorrhizae, or for example, two of these volatile compounds, ethylene and acid indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) are believed to be responsible for the appearance of the brule, because we know that these hormones in high doses are a potent herbicide. These flavors  change not only during the maturity of each truffle, but the geographic area where it was harvested.

That’s why from Micologia Forestal & Aplicada, we are conducting a research project, coordinated by our microbiologist, PhD Xavier Vilanova, on different truffle bacterial communities.

For those who want to dive into this subject, a very interesting article  has just recently been published:
Richard Splivallo1, Simone Ottonello2, Antonietta Mello3 and
Petr Karlovsky. (2011) Truffle volatiles: from chemical ecology
to scent biosynthesis. New Phytologist 189: 688-699

Regards,
Marcos Morcillo

About trufflefarming

CEO of Micofora. Truffles and edible wild mushroom science and farming. Researcher, truffle farmer & mycologist
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