Fungi Fun: The Secret Sex Life of Black Truffles

Telegraph UK

We know the rare and expensive black truffle grows underground on the roots of oak trees, but until now the exact method by which the fungi spread was a mystery.

A team of scientists in Italy has uncovered the secret of black truffle reproduction — and it looks a whole lot like a junior high school dance.Black truffles, it turns out, are either male or female and — unlike most fungi which reproduce asexually or through self-fertilization — they need each other to reproduce. The problem? Males and females have a tendency to grow in same-sex colonies on separate trees, much like middle school boys and girls sticking to opposite sides of the gym at a dance.

The scientists believe animals and insects may play a role in truffle reproduction, carrying the spores from one colony to another. This knowledge may help in cultivating black truffles, which could in turn bring down prices, but probably not for awhile. Michel Courvoisier, director of the French Federation of Trufficulteurs, said, "Unfortunately, a better mastering of growing conditions will not quickly affect production – truffles are a slow emerging fungi."

Read the full story: Secret Sex Life of Truffles Revealed - Telegraph UK

Related: What Is the Best Way to Use Fresh Black Truffles?

(Image: Flickr member daveyll licensed under Creative Commons)

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