Alkalinity and structure of soils determine the truffle production in the Pyrenean Regions

Benoit Jaillard, Dominique Barry-Etienne, Carlos Colinas, Ana-Maria De Miguel, Laurent Genola, Aline Libre, Pascal Neveu, Daniel Oliach, Williams Saenz, Mauricio Sáez, Xavier Salducci, Gerard Souche, Pierre Sourzat, Manon Villeneuve


Aim of study: The program "Typology of truffle stations in the Pyrenean Regions" aimed to define the ecological conditions and culture practices that favor Tuber melanosporum growth and fruiting in this area.

Area of study: Navarra, Catalonia, Midi-Pyrénées and Languedoc-Roussillon.

Material and methods: The program was based on the survey of 212 wild and cultivated truffle beds of evergreen oaks (Quercus ilex). The data collected in the field consisted of photographs, samples of soil, roots and mycorrhizae, and information on cultural practices followed by truffle growers.

Main results: (i) truffle soils are alkaline, from neutral, dolomitic, to moderately or very calcareous soils; (ii) truffle soils are light, well-structured and stable to water immersion; (iii) mycelium that colonizes roots survives in suboptimal conditions, but it does not necessarily bear ascocarps. Finally our results suggest that T. melanosporum is a relatively ubiquitous fungus able to grow, or at least to persist, in a wide range of physical and chemical soil conditions. We propose a probabilistic model of the environment favorable for fruiting, built around a two-dimensional graph with an axis for the chemical conditions, like soil alkalinity, and another axis for the physical conditions, like soil structure.

Research highlights: Soil alkalinity and structure allow to built a convenient representation of the ecological capacity of a place to be good T. melanosporum habitat, and thus of the probability for truffle growers to harvest truffles according to the environmental properties of their truffle orchards.

Keywords: dolomite; limestone; mycorrhizae; Quercus ilex; field survey; Tuber melanosporum.

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DOI: 10.5424/fs/2014232-04933