Author: <span>Fabrice Caporal</span>

Author: Fabrice Caporal

Having the right tools is half the battle – TRAPI

Webinar Recorded 10/17/2022. This is NATGA’s first webinar under the TRAPI umbrella. We highlight the current tools and technologies using DNA to characterize fungal species and populations present in truffle orchards. The team discussed what these genetic tools are and what they can tell us, how these insights might be applied to management, and how current and emerging genetic technologies may help us to provide better information on the living communities present in your orchard.

A Study of Truffle Mycorrhiza Ecology with Dr. Rytas Vilgaly

Webinar recorded September 19 2022. On a cold morning in February 2022 the Microbial Ecology and Evolution class (Bio557L) from Duke University visited Burwell Farms in north central North Carolina. The class was led by Dr. Rytas Vilgalys, Dr. Jake Nash and Dr. Corbin Bryan. Burwell Farms invited the class to conduct research on the effects of high pH and other orchard management practices on Tuber borchii and native fungi and bacteria. Burwell Farms has earned fame for having successfully cultivating T. borchii with loblolly pine and is currently the USA’s most productive truffle orchard (Smithsonian Magazine June 2021). The students learned best truffle cultivation practices and how two dogs, Elora and Laddie, work to find truffles. As part of the class project, students collected fresh soil and root samples from within and outside the truffle orchard. Then students performed a series of forest microbiome analyses using both Sanger and nextgen sequencing (ITS gene for fungi, 16S gene for bacteria). In this webinar, Dr. Vilgalys will present their findings which compare the fungal and bacterial communities associated with managed and natural pine forest microbiomes.

Unearthing the Appalachian…or, Can I Lick Your Bottom, canaliculatum. (An important mnemonic device) by Ben Kable

Webinar recorded July 18 2022

As the twinkling of the last star fades
The morning mists arise
The secrets of the forest lie
Beneath their earthly guise

The mossy duff exudes
An ancient aromatic lure
Of reproductive readiness
Irresistible and pure

A bouquet of love, and want and spice
Rivulets arise
Invisible on morning air Belie
A subterranean surprise

The damp silence, split by echoes
The jingle of a dog
The gravel crunches underfoot
In the eastern mountain fog

The huffing puffing quadruped
Detects the ancient scent
His head snaps to, he drops his nose
To find the hunts intent

He circles against the gradient
Of biochemical diffusion
A miracle of mammalian
Olfactory evolution

A cool dawn breeze amongst the trees
The leaves, the spruce duff rustle
A frantic paw pulls back the moss –
The Appalachian truffle

Basic experimental concepts for testing management options in truffle orchards with Mark Coleman and Shannon Berch

Truffle growers have a lot of ideas and information available on management practices necessary to produce truffles. Sometimes ideas conflict, it is not clear what level of a treatment is most effective, or you have an off-the-wall idea to try. We can test our ideas and decide which practices work best using basic experimental methods. This webinar reviews those methods and encourages the sharing of results to help us all learn. The discussion will include how to use controlled experiments to test approaches or ideas, i.e., your hypothesis, and consider different types of variables, experimental subjects, replication, controls, and how to decide if observed responses are meaningful. We will also consider some essentials that make it easy to document the justification, approach, and results of your test. Beyond these basic requirements, understanding basic experimental practices is essential to successfully host meaningful research conducted by truffle scientists.

What do truffles mean? by Rowan Jacobsen

For centuries, truffles have been marketed as the ultimate luxury food, a precious morsel to be had in fancy restaurants. While this has kept their perceived value high, it has also made them off-putting to many consumers, and has prevented them from being widely embraced in many cultures. Americans know very little about truffles, and are intimidated from trying to learn more. This is a missed opportunity, because truffles are perfectly positioned to appeal to changing American tastes. They are powerful, exotic, mysterious, and excellent representatives of the landscapes in which they grow. They also speak to Americans’ growing interest in the flavors of the natural world. Rowan Jacobsen has spent the past two years visiting truffle hunters and truffle farms in half a dozen countries, and he presents his thoughts on what truffles mean to different cultures, and how they might be freed from their staid luxury prison in the United States and repositioned as a dynamic 21st-century ingredient.