The scent of truffles? It depends on the genes
A study has revealed the genetic makeup of the “diamonds of the kitchen”, truffles, underground fungi belonging to the Tuberaceae family that live in symbiosis with plant roots and play an important role in soil ecosystem.
An article published in Nature Ecology & Evolution explains how scientists have sequenced the genomes of the Piedmont white truffle (Tuber magnatum Pico) and of the Burgundy truffle (Tuber aestivum), two prized species of the most aromatic and expensive foods in the world.
In addition to these two species, other less known edible fungi were also sequenced, including the Desert truffle (Terfezia boudieri), the pig truffle (Choiromyces venosus), and morchella (Morchella importuna).
The authors found unexpected similarities between the genome of the black truffle, already sequenced, and that of the white truffle, despite their separate evolutionary paths.
They also found that truffles have a limited set of the genes that allow other fungi to degrade the cell walls of the plants on which they live. In addition, truffles have a marked expression of genes that produce their pungent aroma, necessary to attract animals that, by eating them, disperse their spores.
The study, promoted by the Joint Genome Institute, was carried out by an international team led by Francis Martin and colleagues from the Institut national de la recherche agronomique, and involved researchers from the CNR of Turin and Perugia, and from the Universities of Turin, Bologna, L’Aquila and Parma.