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Insect-truffle interactions – potential threats to emerging industries?

Rosa-Gruszecka, Aleksandra, Gange, Alan C., Harvey, Deborah J., Jaworski, Tomasz, Hilszczański, Jacek, Plewa, Radosław, Konwerski, Szymon, Hilszczańska, Dorota
Fungal ecology 2017 v.25 pp. 59-63
Tuber aestivum, Tuber melanosporum, drought, industry, insect larvae, insects, pests, rain, summer, surveys, truffles, Alps region, France, Italy, Poland, Spain, United Kingdom
Truffle harvests are declining in Europe, due to droughts, and this offers an opportunity for production to be developed in countries such as the UK and Poland, where rainfall tends to be higher. Drier Mediterranean summers seem to be associated with a decrease in the harvest of the Périgord truffle (Tuber melanosporum) in Spain, France and Italy. However, other species, for example the Burgundy truffle (Tuber aestivum) offer opportunities for production in the more temperate environments north of the Alps. Truffles across Europe can be infested by insect larvae, seriously reducing their economic and culinary quality. Here, using a combination of literature sources and a field survey, we present a commentary on insects attacking truffles, aiming to highlight those species that could be potential pests in the British and Polish emergent industries. There is a remarkable disparity in coincidence of records of insects and truffles in these countries, yet a survey in Poland confirms that insects can be abundant. We discuss reasons for this disparity and suggest that biochemical methods could easily be developed for detection of the truffles and their attackers.