Ecology and diversity of Terfezia towards culture – sciencedaily


In a benevolent symbiotic relationship, mycorrhizal fungi live and feed on the roots of specific plants, while providing water and nutrients to their “companion”. In arid and semi-arid environments, mycorrhization processes are essential for the survival of plants and fungi. In addition, the network of hyphae of the fungus, which propagates in the soil by connecting several plant individuals, is of the utmost importance for improving the quality and fertility of the soil.

Researchers from the University of Évora in Portugal, led by biologist Celeste Santos e Silva, worked on Terfezia mushrooms, the most diverse genus and the richest in species among the desert truffles. Their study, published in the open access journal MycoKeys, could prove particularly valuable for rural populations in the Mediterranean basin, where desert truffles, highly valued in local markets, are an important source of food. Becoming more and more an exquisite part of the Mediterranean diet, Terfezia the products can also be very profitable. In addition, these fungi are essential for soil conservation, prevention of erosion and desertification.

After 8 years of exhaustive field exploration for desert truffles and many hours in the molecular biology lab, the researchers noted some previously unknown trends in the ecology of Terfezia species. They recorded seven new species in Portugal, including two new to science – Terfezia lusitanica and Terfezia solaris-libera. This brings the number of Terfezia species known to grow in the country to ten. The discovery of a wider ecological range for many species studied (eg. Terfezia grisea). By adding valuable information on their possible hosts, their symbionts and their ecological constraints, these discoveries open up new opportunities for the cultivation of truffles.

“It is very difficult to identify all the specimens since the Terfezia the species are so similar, and molecular biology was absolutely fundamental here, ”explains the researcher. “The technique was essential for updating and solving problems in their taxonomy and the relationship between species in the genus.

In addition, the findings are also expected to have a positive impact on local communities by boosting agricultural products, businesses and even employment.

The knowledge acquired in this research on the conditions under which different Terfezia Growing the species is an important step towards cultivating the desert truffle: Mushrooms are hard to find in nature, which is why it would make a big difference – including financially – for local communities if they find a way. to grow truffles themselves.

As part of the “Mycorrhization of Cistus spp with Terfezia arenaria (Moris) Trappe and its application to the production of desert truffles “(ALT20-03-0145-FEDER-000006), the researchers took a step forward towards the realization of a mycorrhizal association of desert truffles with plants perennials (cistus), which would allow their mass production for various sectors such as food, medicine and soil reclamation. This new form of production, assures the MED researcher and leader of the project, “will make it possible to create more jobs, reversing the current trend of desertification in rural areas, while being an excellent tool for ecosystem recovery and restoration. “

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