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Where are we?

Methodology approaches in genome-based diversity and ecological plasticity study of truffles from their natural distribution areas

Project status:  active
Project Leader: Tine Grebenc, PhD
Department: Department of Forest Physiology and Genetics
Project group:

Gozdarski inštitut Slovenije

Tine Grebenc (21242)

Grega Ernest Voglar (31120)

Hojka Kraigher (07127)

Tina Unuk Nahberger (38188)

Matjaž Čater (15493)

Peter Železnik (28401)

Andrej Kobler (16067)

Tjaša Baloh (51355)

Tanja Mrak (24268)

Marko Bajc (29875)

Mitja Ferlan (29164)

Barbara Štupar (24777)

Nataša Šibanc (31877)



Univerza v Ljubljani, Biotehniška fakulteta

Cene Gostinčar (25974)

Nina Gunde-Cimerman (05935)

Polona Zalar (16103)

Martina Turk (18510)


Institut “Jožef Stefan”

Nives Ogrinc (11279)

Bor Krajnc (50798)

Doris Potočnik (38496)



Inštitut za okolje in prostor

Cvetka Ribarič Lasnik (08604)

Nadja Romih (28327)


Leading institution: Slovenian Forestry Institute

Partner institutions:

1.      University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty

2.      Jožef Stefan Institute

3.      Institute for Environment and Spatial Planning

About the project   

Truffles are among the most prominent edible ectomycorrhizal fungi and non-timber forest products, valued for their rich and diverse species-specific aromas. The focus of this study are two species, Tuber magnatum and
Tuber aestivum. Tuber magnatum has the highest value among truffles but a very limited areal spreading from limestone-rich flood-lands in Italy, across the Balkan peninsula to east Romania and Greece. On the other hand, Tuber aestivum, has the largest areal in Europe among truffles. It occupies ruderal and unproductive ectomycorrhizal forest and shrubs ecosystems from boreal to Mediterranean climate. The two species differ also in their ecology and ability to grow under various environmental conditions and forest types. There are no clear explanations for the observed differences. Despite the relatively wide distribution of Tuber aestivum, the price of specimens reflects their geographic origin, being highest in the areas with tradition of truffle hunting - even though no phylogenetic or population study so far provided any substantial basis for such differentiation. Similarly, no population genomic data exist on truffles.

In the project we will for the first time in Slovenian forestry sector sequence genomes of at least 30 strains of Tuber aestivum and at least 30 strains of T. magnatum. The comparison of a large collection of genomes and their association with ecological, geographic and truffle quality (aroma) data, using state-of-the-art bioinformatic approaches will enable us to (i) investigate a detailed population structure of Tuber aestivum and Tuber magnatum; (ii) attempt to associate this population structure with host/geographic/climate data and set-up markers for tracing of samples origin; (iii) correlate diversity of aromas with metabolic potential at genome level and (iv) offer population or genome-level insights of the different specialisation of the two species: why the generalist Tuber aestivum is broadly distributed and successfully cultivated but the specialised Tuber magnatum is limited in its areal and notoriously difficult to cultivate.

Genomic DNA will be isolated from readily available and pre-characterised sporocarps with a method for routine isolation of genomic DNA of sufficient quality for genome resequencing. Sequencing will be performed with an Illumina platform at approximately 30× coverage. Selected bioinformatic tools and pipelines will be used to investigate the phylogenomics and population genetics of sequenced strains and associate these data with available metadata.

The project is expected to have important benefits at several levels. Globally it will contribute to better understanding of infraspecific diversity. If our hypothesis about the existence of a consistent population structure linked to the geographical origin is true, this will provide reliable tools to uncover the fraudulent claims of geographical origin and promote the branding of truffles with their geographic origin. If, on the other hand, the no population structure will be discovered, this would mean that the pricing truffles based on their geographic origin has no firm basis. Any genomic evidence of habitat adaptation can be used for informed modification of cultivation activities towards the use of better adapted and site-specific genotypes, thus increasing the success of cultivation and decreasing the hazards of introducing foreign genotypes for the indigenous truffle strains. Both at global and regional level, the comparison of a species with broad areal may reveal mechanisms for their adaptability or suggest markers that are responsible for such characteristics. As truffles are gaining popularity at a global scale, we propose a range of dissemination activities from high-ranking scientific papers to presentation of results in education, technology development, in the form of support to truffle growers support and a contribution to principles of green (myco)tourism.


Further reading

GRUPE II, Arthur C., SULZBACHER, Marcelo Aloisio, GREBENC, Tine, HEALY, Rosanne, BONITO, Gregory, SMITH, Matthew E. Tuber brennemanii and Tuber floridanum : two new Tuber species are among the most commonly detected ectomycorrhizal taxa within commercial pecan (Carya illinoinensis) orchards. Mycologia, ISSN 0027-5514, 2018, vol. 110, iss. 4, str. 780-790, ilustr., graf. prikazi., doi: 10.1080/00275514.2018.1490121. [COBISS.SI-ID 5154470], [JCR, SNIP, WoS do 13. 1. 2019: št. citatov (TC): 1, čistih citatov (CI): 1, Scopus do 20. 10. 2018: št. citatov (TC): 0, čistih citatov (CI): 0]


SULZBACHER, Marcelo Aloisio, HAMANN, Jonas Janner, FRONZA, Diniz, SEMINOTI JACQUES, Rodrigo Josemar, GIACHINI, Admir Jose, GREBENC, Tine, ANTONIOLLI, Zaida Ines. Fungos ectomicorrízicos em plantações de nogueira-pecã e o potencial da truficultura no Brasil = Ectomycorrhizal fungi in pecan orchards and the potential of truffle cultivation in Brazil. Ciência Florestal, ISSN 1980-5098, jun. 2019, vol. 29, nu. 2, str. 975-987, ilustr.,, doi: 10.5902/1980509827581. [COBISS.SI-ID 5435814], [JCR, SNIP]


LINDE, Sietse van der, SUZ, L. M., ORME, C. David L., COX, Filipa, ANDREAE, Henning, ASI, Endla, ATKINSON, Bonnie, BENHAM, Sue, GREBENC, Tine, ŽLINDRA, Daniel, et al. Environment and host as large-scale controls of ectomycorrhizal fungi. Nature : the international weekly journal of science, ISSN 0028-0836. [Print ed.], Jun. 2018, vol. 558, str. 243-[258], graf. prikazi, zvd. tabele., doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0189-9. [COBISS.SI-ID 5104806], [JCR, SNIP, WoS do 11. 8. 2019: št. citatov (TC): 25, čistih citatov (CI): 24, Scopus do 29. 4. 2019: št. citatov (TC): 21, čistih citatov (CI): 20]


ZAMORA, Juan Carlos, SVENSSON, Måns, KIRSCHNER, Roland, OLARIAGA IBARGUREN, Ibai, RYMAN, Svengunnar, PARRA, Luis Alberto, GEML, József, ROSLING, Anna, ADAMČÍK, Slavomír, GREBENC, Tine, et al. Considerations and consequences of allowing DNA sequence data as types of fungal taxa. IMA fungus, ISSN 2210-6340, 2018, vol. 9, no. 1, str. 167-175., doi: 10.5598/imafungus.2018.09.01.10. [COBISS.SI-ID 5098406], [JCR, SNIP, WoS do 10. 3. 2019: št. citatov (TC): 4, čistih citatov (CI): 4, Scopus do 29. 4. 2019: št. citatov (TC): 4, čistih citatov (CI): 4]


MILENKOVIĆ, Miroljub, GREBENC, Tine, MARKOVIĆ, Miroslav, IVANČEVIĆ, Boris. Tuber petrophilum, a new truffle species from Serbia. Mycotaxon : an international journal for research on taxonomy & nomenclature of fungi, including Lichens, ISSN 0093-4666, 2015, vol. 130, str. 1141-1152, ilustr., doi: 10.5248/130.1141. [COBISS.SI-ID 4259238], [JCR, SNIP, WoS do 10. 3. 2019: št. citatov (TC): 2, čistih citatov (CI): 2, Scopus do 28. 4. 2019: št. citatov (TC): 2, čistih citatov (CI): 2]


GREBENC, Tine, KRAIGHER, Hojka, MARTIN P., Maria, PILTAVER, Andrej, RATOŠA, Ivan. Research and cultivation of truffes in Slovenia : current status. V: CHEVALIER, Gérard (ur.). La culture de la truffe : dans la monde. [Brive-la-Gaillarde: INRA. 2008], str. 183-191, ilustr. [COBISS.SI-ID 2130342]


DACINGER, Renata (urednik, oseba, ki intervjuva), ČUČEK, Anja (scenarist, oseba, ki intervjuva), GREBENC, Tine (intervjuvanec), VOLK, Žarko (intervjuvanec), STROJNIK, Lidija (intervjuvanec), KRAJNC, Bor (intervjuvanec), UNUK, Tina (intervjuvanec), BAJC, Marko (intervjuvanec), DAVIDOVIĆ, Nejc (intervjuvanec). Dragulji gastronomije, (Ugriznimo znanost). Ljubljana: TV Slovenija, 2018. [COBISS.SI-ID 5222822]


GREBENC, Tine. 2500 evrov za čudne podzemne gobe : Slovenija je ena redkih držav, kjer rastejo najžlahtnejši tartufi : prispevek v oddaji 24UR Fokus, prvič predvajano na POPTVv 13. 11. 2016. [COBISS.SI-ID 4576934]


UNUK, Tina, KRAIGHER, Hojka, GREBENC, Tine. Nasadi gomoljik - teoretične osnove : predavanje v okviru "Gojenje gomoljik v Sloveniji - možnosti in priložnosti za razvoj podeželja, Ljubljana, Državni zbor, 7. marec 2017. [COBISS.SI-ID 4844966]


GREBENC, Tine. Truffles in Slovenia : from native sites to plantations : predavanje na mednarodni konferenci 4. Feria Internacional de la Trufa, Rivabellosa, 10.-20. 1. 2019. [COBISS.SI-ID 5296550]

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