Quality assessment of truffle-inoculated seedlings in Italy: proposing revised parameters for certification
Aim of study: the main aims of this study were to evaluate the quality of truffle-inoculated seedlings produced by commercial nurseries in Italy and to identify their minimum requisites in terms of plant age, health, homogeneity, and cut-off percentage of inoculated Tuber and non-Tuber ectomycorrhizae, based on the analysis of an extensive sample of seedlings subjected to quality control and certification.
Area of study: truffle-inoculated seedlings produced by Italian commercial nurseries.
Material and Methods: analysis of truffle-inoculated seedlings for health and quality standards; recording of presence of inoculated Tuber spp. and other concurrent fungi according to the official Italian method for certification; selective amplification of ectomycorrhizal DNA by PCR species-specific primers.
Main results: We showed that mycorrhization levels in truffle-inoculated seedlings increased with time after truffle-spore inoculation. The highest mean percentage of the inoculated Tuber spp., but also the highest presence of contaminants, were recorded after three years. The mycorrhization level of Tuber melanosporum and T. aestivum was higher in Corylus and Ostrya seedlings than in Q. ilex and Q. pubescens, but the latter two host species showed the lowest presence of other ectomycorrhizal fungi. Mycorrhization level distribution in truffle-inoculated seedlings of suitable batches differed very little from the distribution in only all suitable seedlings. Truffle seedlings with other Tuber spp. were very few and even absent after three years. The general quality of Italian truffle-inoculated seedlings is high but can be improved even further by revising the parameters used for their certification.
Research highlights: Mycorrhization assessment in truffle-inoculated seedlings produced by commercial nurseries and a revision of the parameters of quality standards following several years of certification in Italy.
Keywords: Truffle cultivation; truffle seedlings; mycorrhization level; Tuber; commercial nursery; certification methods.
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