Comparison of ectomycorrhizal communities in natural and cultivated Tuber melanosporum truffle grounds


Correspondence: Andrea Rubini, CNR – Istituto di Genetica Vegetale sezione di Perugia, Via della Madonna Alta n.130, 06128, Perugia, Italy. Tel.: +390755014863; fax: +390755014869; e-mail:


Truffles are hypogeous ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi belonging to the genus Tuber. Although outplanting of truffle-inoculated host plants has enabled the realization of productive orchards, truffle cultivation is not yet standardized. Therefore, monitoring the distribution of fungal species in different truffle fields may help us to elucidate the factors that shape microbial communities and influence the propagation and fruiting of Tuber spp. In this study, we compared the fungal biodiversity in cultivated and natural Tuber melanosporum truffle fields located in Central Italy. To this end, ectomycorrhizas (ECM) and soil samples were molecularly analyzed, and an inventory of the fungi associated with Quercus pubescens plants colonized by T. melanosporum, Tuber aestivum or Tuber brumale was compiled. T. melanosporum and T. aestivum were dominant on the cultivated plants, and the number of EM species was markedly lower in the cultivated sites than in the natural sites. However, in the same site, EM biodiversity was higher in T. brumale-colonized plants than in T. melanosporum-colonized plants. These results suggest that different Tuber spp. may have different competitive effects on the other mycobionts. Additionally, in keeping with our previous findings, we found that the number of T. melanosporum genotypes recovered from the soil samples was higher than that of the underlying ECM.