White mulch and irrigation increase black truffle soil mycelium when competing with summer truffle in young truffle orchards

Mycorrhiza. 2021 May;31(3):371-382. doi: 10.1007/s00572-020-01018-x. Epub 2021 Jan 30.


The black truffle (Tuber melanosporum Vittad.) and the summer truffle (Tuber aestivum Vittad.) are two of the most appreciated edible fungi worldwide. The natural distributions of both species partially overlap. However, the interspecific interactions between these truffles and how irrigation and mulching techniques impact the dynamics between them are still unknown. Here, an experimental truffle plantation with Quercus ilex was established in Maials (Catalonia, Spain), combining three soil mulch treatments (white mulch, black mulch and bare soil as a control) and two irrigation regimes (irrigated and non-irrigated as a control) to investigate truffle mycelial dynamics in soil when both truffle species co-occur. The development of truffle mycelium in two different seasons (spring and autumn) in two consecutive years (2017 and 2018) was quantified using qPCR. Truffle mycelia of both species showed greatest development under white mulch. When mycelia of both truffle species co-occurred in soil, irrigation combined with white mulch resulted in greater quantities of T. melanosporum mycelial biomass, whereas the control irrigation treatment favoured the development of T. aestivum. Mulch treatments were also advantageous for seedling growth, which was expressed as root collar diameter and its increment during the study period. Significant relationships between root collar diameter and root growth and the amount of mycelial biomass in the soil were observed for both truffle species. Our results indicate the potential advantages of using white mulch to support irrigation in truffle plantations located in areas with dry Mediterranean climatic conditions to promote the development of Tuber mycelium.

Keywords: Mycelium quantification; Truffle competition; Truffle plantation; Tuber aestivum; Tuber melanosporum; qPCR.

MeSH terms

  • Ascomycota
  • Mycelium
  • Mycorrhizae*
  • Seasons
  • Soil
  • Soil Microbiology
  • Spain


  • Soil

Supplementary concepts

  • Tuber aestivum
  • Tuber melanosporum