Brief Summary

Although a number of species in the truffle genus Tuber are harvested for human consumption, the Piedmont (or Italian) White Truffle (T. magnatum) and Périgord Black Truffle (Tuber melanosporum) dominate the truffle trade, with T. magnatum commanding the highest prices.The Piedmont White Truffle is the underground fruiting body of an ascomycete fungus that forms ectomycorrhizal associations with the roots of various host plants, typically linden trees (Tilia), oaks (Quercus), willows (Salix), or poplars (Populus). Piedmont White Truffles have a limited distribution in southern and central Europe, occurring in Italy, Switzerland, Croatia, Slovenia, and Serbia between 40° and 46° N (Jeandroz et al. 2008).

Truffle prices range into the hundreds (or even thousands) of Euros per kilogram. The high demand for truffles has led to intensive efforts at cultivation. The life cycle and ecology of these fungi is complex (Kües and Martin 2011 and references therein), but significant progress has been made in "truffle farming" of some species, although commercial production does not come close to meeting demand and efforts to "domesticate" T. magnatum have not yet been successful.  Many truffle researchers and growers hope that the recently released 125 megabase haploid genome sequence for T. melanosporum will provide new opportunities to achieve a deeper understanding of the biology of Tuber truffles that will in turn allow progress in developing commercially viable cultivation techniques.

(Martin et al. 2010; Zampieri et al. 2010; Kües and Martin 2011 and references therein)

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© Leo Shapiro

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