Improving water managment and the effect of cultivation techniques

Post-doctoral researcher : Herminia de la Varga Pastor
University : Université de Lorraine
Contract period : 12 mois

Research topic Improving water managment and the effect of cultivation techniques on the mycelium in the soil, fruiting production and water balance: pilot experiments geared toward adaptation of truffles to climate change.

Research team and supervising scientists 
Research team: Joint Research Unit (UMR) 1136 Tree/Microorganism Interactions (IAM)
Supervisor : Claude Murat


Context and state of the art — Truffles are ectomycorhizien fungi whch establish a mutualist symbiosis with many trees and shrubs. Truffle groves are open ecosystems, related to agro-forestry, which play a significant role in the landscape. Like all fungi, the production of truffle fruitings is strongly influenced by the climate. To make production less random it is therefore essential to have a better knowledge of the climatic factors influencing their biological cycle, especially in the context of climate change. In effect, the climate may influence the various phases of the biological cycle such as the symbiotic phase, development of the mycelium in the soil, the sexual reproduction phase and fruiting development. The sexual reproduction phase of truffles rests on the interaction between two compatible mycelium of different sexual types. By analysing the genome of the Périgord black truffle we currently have sexual compatible genes.

Objectives and specific questions to be addressed — The objectives of the project ClimaTruf are to model the effects of the climate on truffle production, to develop tools for monitoring the mycelium of truffles in the soil and to put experimental sites in place.

The main research issues to be addressed by the post-doc are:

  1. To identify existing correlations between truffle production and the climate;
  2. To develop protocol for monitoring the two mating types found in the soil;
  3. To explain changes in the quantity of truffle mycelium for two mating types found in the soil.

Relevant scientific and socio-economic issues — The scientific issues to be addressed are to increase our knowledge of the biological cycle of truffles in situ which can be linked with the climate. This will lead to evolved cultivation techniques. The transfer to the socio-economic context will be fostered through involvement in ClimaTruf project supported by the French federation of truffle growers and a private company ALCINA which will help to disseminate and commercialize protocol developed by the post-doc.

Methodological approach and expected results — Les résultats attendus sont un modèle permettant de prédire la production de truffes en fonction du climat, un kit de diagnostic permettant de quantifier le mycélium de truffes dans le sol, la dynamique annuelle du mycélium de truffes et des sites expérimentaux pour suivre le bilan hydrique à long terme.

The expected results include a model for predicting truffle production relative to climatic conditions, a diagnostic kit for quantifying  truffle mycelium in the soil, the annual dynamic of  truffle mycelium and experimental sites to follow long-term water balance.