In November Dr Thomas met with Shari Vahl from BBC Radio 4’s You & Yours programme to discuss Mycorrhizal Systems’ cultivation of the Black winter Perigord truffle on our partner site in South Wales – this is the first time the valuable truffle has been found north of France and is related to changing climatic conditions. Shari visits the plantation in Wales that is now producing both summer and winter truffle varieties.
In October we welcomed our new PhD candidate, Philip Schuler, to the Mycorrhizal Systems team. Supervised by ourselves and Prof. Ganesan at the University of East Anglia, Philip is working on a new field in truffle research: the effect of epigenetic and morphogenetic modulators on truffle cultivation under model laboratory conditions. In essence, we have compounds which change how genes are expressed with the aim of looking for important modulators for truffle growth and fruiting. The aim is to eventually develop practical applications that can be applied to the orchards of our grower partners. This is a really exciting project and encompasses a range of experimental systems. Philip has been on several orchards already, collecting samples and has already got quite deep into lab work. Click through for some stunning images Philip has taken of the truffle fungus growing in association with the plant partner (Tuber aestivum).
We’re excited to announce that the first cultivated black Périgord (winter) truffle in the UK has been produced using Mycorrhizal Systems technology – this is the first time the truffle has been found north of central France and was grown on our partner site in Monmouthshire, South Wales. The truffle find and associated research has been reported in the journal ‘Climate Research’. Analysis by researchers from the University of Cambridge and Dr Paul Thomas from Mycorrhizal Systems and the University of Stirling suggests that climate change was a factor and that truffle cultivation may be possible in many parts of the UK. The scientific breakthrough is an important development for the burgeoning UK truffle industry as climate change is threatening native black Périgord truffle habitats in southern Europe.