A truffle-like fungus is a fruiting body belonging to subterranean ascomycete fungus, most commonly amongst the Tuber species. Several other fungi genera, such as Peziza, Geopora, Leucangium, Choiromyces, and more than a hundred others, are regarded as truffles. These genera are members of the Pezizomycetes class and the Pezizales order. Pezizales excludes a few truffle-like basidiomycetes, such as Glomus and Rhizopogon. Truffles are ectomycorrhizal fungi, which means they grow in close proximity to tree roots. Fungivores, or animals that feed on fungi, are responsible for spore dispersal. These fungi play an important role in nitrogen cycling and drought tolerance in the environment.
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Several truffle species are valued as delicacies. Truffles have been dubbed "the gem of the kitchen" by French gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. Edible truffles are used in French and other high-end cuisines around the world. Truffles are grown and harvested in their natural habitat.
Phylogeny and Species:
The ectomycorrhizal trophic mode has evolved convergently in a variety of fungi, according to a phylogenetic study. The order Pezizales belongs to the Pezizomycotina subphylum, which is 400 million years old. The subterranean fungus has evolved separately at a minimum of fifteen times inside the order Pezizales.Tuberaceae, Pyronematacae, Pezizaceae, and Morchellaceae are among the Pezizales families. Subterranean or truffle fungi are found in each of these families.
The earliest ectomycorrhizal fossil dates back to the Eocene epoch, almost 50 million years ago. This suggests that ectomycorrhizal fungi's soft bodies are difficult to fossilise. The evolution of ectomycorrhizal fungus is thought to have occurred around 130 million years ago, according to molecular clocks.
Summer or Burgundy: The black summer truffle (Tuber aestivum) is regarded for its culinary worth and may be found all over Europe. Burgundy truffles (Tuber uncinatum, although the same species) are produced from October to December and feature aromatic, darker-coloured flesh. These are linked to a variety of plants and shrubs.
Black: The second-most commercially important species, the black Périgord truffle (Tuber melanosporum) or black truffle, is called after the Périgord area in France. Black truffles are collected in late fall and winter and therefore are associated with hazelnut, oaks, cherry, as well as other deciduous trees. The black truffle genome sequence was introduced in March 2010.
Geopora: Geopora spp. are essential ectomycorrhizal companions of trees in the world's forests and woodlands. In arid conditions, Pinus edulis, a common pine species in the Southwest United States, relies on Geopora for nutrient and water absorption. Geopora, like some of the other truffle fungi, reproduces sexually by producing subterranean sporocarps.
Tuber magnatum, also known as trifola d'Alba Madonna ("Truffle of the Madonna from Alba"), is a high-value white truffle fungus particularly abundant in the Langhe and Montferrat regions of Piedmont in northern Italy, and also majorly famous in the countryside near Alba and Asti.
Whitish: A related species, the "whitish truffle" (Tuber borchii), could be seen in Abruzzo, Tuscany, Umbria, Romagna, Molise and the Marche. This is not as fragrant as Piedmontese wines, though Città di Castello wines come close.
The roots of various tree species, such as hornbeam, birch, hazel, pine, beech, oak, and poplar, create mycorrhizal, symbiotic, connections with the mycelia of truffles. In compensation for carbohydrates, mutualistic ectomycorrhizal fungi like truffles supply important nutrients to the plant. Ectomycorrhizal fungi are unable to thrive in the absence of their plant hosts within the soil. In reality, most of these fungi had already ended up losing the enzymes that allow them to acquire carbon from other sources. Truffle fungi, for instance, have lost their potential to destroy plant cell walls, restricting their ability to break down plant waste. Plant hosts may also be reliant on the truffle fungi with which they are associated. Oak communities require the presence of Peziza, Geopora, and Tuber spp.
Truffle fungus offers highly valued micro-and macronutrients to their host plants in return for carbohydrates. Potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulphur are plant macronutrients, while iron, zinc, copper, and chloride are micronutrients. The Hartig net, the intercellular hyphal network amongst plant root cells, is where the large proportion of nutrient exchange takes place in truffle fungi, as it is in each of the ectomycorrhizae. The creation of the mantle on the external layer of fine roots is a distinctive characteristic of ectomycorrhizal fungi.
Tuber fungi have been linked to orchid species such as Cephalanthera damasonium and Epipactis helleborine, however, that's not always the situation.
Truffle fungi play a significant role in nutrient cycling in the environment. Nutrients are obtained by plants through their fine roots. Because mycorrhizal fungi are so much thinner and narrower than fine roots, they do have a larger surface area and therefore are better able to search for nutrients in soils. The utilisation of nitrate or ammonium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and other ions is part of the nutrient acquisition process.
Plenty of ectomycorrhizal fungi form fungal mats around host plants in the topmost soil layers. Carbon and fixed nitrogen concentrations in such mats are considerably higher as compared to surrounding soils. The leaching of nutrients is decreased as these mats are nitrogen sinks.
Importance in Arid-Land Ecosystems:
The accessibility of compatible mycorrhizal fungi has a big impact on plant community structure. Such fungi are crucial for the existence of their host plants in arid-land ecosystems because they improve their capacity to endure drought. Pinus edulis, also recognised as pinyon pine, is a foundation species in arid-land ecosystems throughout the Southwest United States. Geopora and Rhizopogon are two subterranean fungi that P. edulis associates with.
Droughts are becoming more common as global temperatures increase, posing a threat to arid-land plants' survival. The death rate of P. edulis has risen as a result of climate change. As a result, the availability and accessibility of compatible mycorrhizal inoculum could have a significant impact on the success of P. edulis seedling establishment. With continued global climate change, correlated ectomycorrhizal fungi would most certainly play a key role in P. edulis survival.