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Lifting the veil over mysterious desert truffles : Terfezia’s ecology and diversity towards cultivation

ScienceDaily (October 28, 2021)

Titre : Lifting the veil over mysterious desert truffles : Terfezia’s ecology and diversity towards cultivation

Developing below the soil surface, desert truffles are hard to find. Recently, researchers updated the number of known species of the desert truffle genus Terfezia occurring in Portugal from three to ten species. They thoroughly characterized their ecological preferences, adding new knowledge on Terfezia’s cryptic lifestyle. These findings are of major importance, as desert truffles have a high economic value.

ScienceDaily (October 28, 2021)

Présentation
In a caring, symbiotic relationship, mycorrhizal fungi live and feed in the roots of specific plants, while providing water and nutrients to their ’companion’. In arid and semi-arid environments, mycorrhization processes are essential to the survival of both plants and fungi. Moreover, the fungus’ hyphal network, which spreads within the soil connecting several plant individuals, is of utmost importance to enhancing soil quality and fertility.

Researchers of the University of Évora in Portugal, led by biologist Celeste Santos e Silva, worked on Terfezia fungi, the most diverse and species-rich genus among desert truffles. Their study, published in the open-access journal MycoKeys, might prove particularly valuable to rural populations in the Mediterranean basin, where desert truffles, highly valued in local markets, are an important food source. Increasingly turning into an exquisite component of the Mediterranean diet, Terfezia products can also be very profitable. Furthermore, these fungi are essential for soil conservation, preventing erosion and desertification.

After 8 years of exhaustive field exploration in search of desert truffles and many hours in the molecular biology lab, the researchers noted some previously unknown trends in the ecology of Terfezia species. They recorded seven species that were new to Portugal, including two that are new to science — Terfezia lusitanica and Terfezia solaris-libera. This brings the number of Terfezia species known to be growing in the country to ten. Particularly important was the discovery of a broader ecological range for many of the studied species (e.g. Terfezia grisea). Adding valuable information about their possible hosts, symbionts and ecological constraints, these findings help open new opportunities for truffle cultivation.

Story Source  : Pensoft Publishers

Annonce (ScienceDaily)

Annonce (Phys.org/news)

Page publiée le 18 janvier 2023