Studying Terfezia, the mysterious desert truffles, with an eye fixed towards ecology and cultivation


Terfezia species collected within the current work A T. arenaria B T. fanfani C T. cistophila D T. grisea E T. dunensis F T. extremadurensis G T. lusitanica H T. pini I T. solaris-libera. Credit: DOI: 10.3897/mycokeys.84.71372

In a caring, symbiotic relationship, mycorrhizal fungi dwell and feed within the roots of particular vegetation, whereas offering water and vitamins to their “companion.” In arid and semi-arid environments, mycorrhization processes are important to the survival of each vegetation and fungi. Moreover, the fungus’ hyphal community, which spreads inside the soil connecting a number of plant people, is of utmost significance to enhancing soil high quality and fertility.

Researchers of the University of Évora in Portugal, led by biologist Celeste Santos e Silva, labored on Terfezia fungi, probably the most numerous and species-rich genus amongst desert truffles. Their research, revealed within the open-access journal MycoKeys, may show significantly priceless to rural populations within the Mediterranean basin, the place desert truffles, extremely valued in native markets, are an essential meals supply. Increasingly turning into an beautiful element of the Mediterranean food plan, Terfezia merchandise will also be very worthwhile. Furthermore, these fungi are important for soil conservation, stopping erosion and desertification.

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After 8 years of exhaustive area exploration in quest of desert truffles and plenty of hours within the molecular biology lab, the researchers famous some beforehand unknown tendencies within the ecology of Terfezia species. They recorded seven species that had been new to Portugal, together with two which can be new to science—Terfezia lusitanica and Terfezia solaris-libera. This brings the variety of Terfezia species recognized to be rising within the nation to 10. Particularly essential was the invention of a broader ecological vary for most of the studied species (e.g., Terfezia grisea). Adding priceless details about their doable hosts, symbionts and ecological constraints, these findings assist open new alternatives for truffle cultivation.

“It is very difficult to identify all specimens given that the Terfezia species look so much alike, and molecular biology was absolutely fundamental here,” explains the researcher. “The technique was essential to update and solve problems about their taxonomy and the relationship between the species in the genus.”

Furthermore, the discoveries are additionally anticipated to positively impression the native communities by stimulating agriculture produce, enterprise and even employment.

Knowledge gained on this analysis in regards to the circumstances wherein completely different Terfezia species develop is a crucial step to abandon truffle cultivation: the fungi are onerous to search out within the wild, which is why it will make an enormous distinction—together with financially—for native communities in the event that they work out a solution to develop truffles themselves.

Within the venture “Mycorrhization of Cistus spp with Terfezia arenaria (Moris) Trappe and its application in the production of desert truffles” (ALT20-03-0145-FEDER-000006), the researchers took a step forward in the direction of reaching mycorrhizal affiliation of desert truffles with perennial vegetation (rock roses), which might enable their mass manufacturing for numerous sectors comparable to meals, medication and soil restoration. This new type of manufacturing, assures the MED researcher and chief of the venture, “will make it possible to create more jobs, reversing the current trend towards desertification in rural areas, while being a great tool for ecosystem recovery and restoration.”

The early bird gets…the truffle? Researchers show birds hunt for fungi, too

More info:
Celeste Santos-Silva et al, Lack of information on ecological determinants and cryptic existence hinder our understanding of Terfezia variety, MycoKeys (2021). DOI: 10.3897/mycokeys.84.71372

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Studying Terfezia, the mysterious desert truffles, with an eye fixed towards ecology and cultivation (2021, October 29)
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