Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Anchored by Melissa Bell  |  About  |  Get Updates:  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  RSS Feeds RSS Feed

Truffle sex secrets revealed! Epicureans rejoice.

height
Truffles in Richereches, France. The blacker the cut truffle, the higher the quality. (Molly Moore/The Washington Post)

The mysterious black truffle has long eluded mushroom cultivators. It grows only in certain locations and can be extremely difficult to locate, and scientists have struggled to make it reproduce.

Its rarity has led to its popularity: A single ounce of truffle shavings -- called the "black diamond," -- can cost as much as $100.

At long last the mystery has been resolved: The black truffle was sexually frustrated all along.

Unlike most fungi, which can self-fertilize, the black truffle is either a male or a female and can reproduce only in partnership. This discovery back in March gave hope that truffles could be bred, cutting the cost and making them more available to hungry mushroom lovers.

The thought was oak tree roots, where truffles are typically found, must be populated with truffles of the two sexes, and viola, more truffles for everyone. However, this proved not to be the case. Truffles seem to prefer to grow in single-sex clusters, and even ground that has been planted with a mixed colony is quickly dominated by one sex.

To reproduce, spores, then, must travel to other colonies on the backs of animals and insects. They can easily be lost along the way, missing the mating mark.

Francesco Paolocci and Andrea Rubini discovered the two-sex nature of the mushrooms during research at the Plant Genetics Institute in Perugia, Italy, the Telegraph reports. Growers will need to use the new discovery to plan single-sex truffle colonies that are close enough to be easily fertilized.

Don't start planning your truffle supper soon, though. A truffle crop takes about six to 10 years to cultivate.

By Melissa Bell  | November 1, 2010; 9:20 AM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Rally to Restore Sanity, the song: Auto-Tune the News recaps Jon Stewart's speech
Next: Best Restore Sanity Rally signs: Vote for your favorite slogan here

No comments have been posted to this entry.

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company