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Keywords:

  • attraction;
  • truffle;
  • odour;
  • fungus;
  • behaviour;
  • Coleoptera;
  • Staphylinoidea;
  • Leiodidae

Abstract

Although the truffle beetle, Leiodes cinnamomea, inflicts substantial damage to the ripe stage of fruiting bodies of the economically important black truffle (Tuber melanosporum), it is not attracted by ripe truffle odours. Rather, male beetles are attracted to infested truffles only in the presence of female beetles, suggesting that the former employ a pheromone to locate truffles over short distances. In contrast, female beetles show no attraction to infested or uninfested truffles, suggesting that they employ other cues, possibly linked to odours emitted by truffles prior to the ripe stage. We hypothesize that the chemical composition of truffle volatiles changes over the life of the truffle fruiting body, being attractive to insects early on and to mammals just prior to decomposition.