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Trouble in the truffière: Investigating the cause of truffle rot in Western Australia

Eslick, H. and Dell, B. (2011) Trouble in the truffière: Investigating the cause of truffle rot in Western Australia. In: Australasian Plant Pathology Society WA Student Symposium, 27 October, South Perth, Western Australia.


The recent successful establishment of a truffle (Tuber melanosporum) industry in Australia has been significantly hampered by the occurrence of a disorder known as truffle rot. Truffle rot occurs at varying levels of severity in all truffle growing regions of the country and losses are believed to amount to over 35% of the annual national harvest. The incidence of rot is strongly related to the depth of truffle formation. Truffles forming within the top 5 cm of the soil profile are over 3 times more likely to become rotten than those forming below 5 cm. The involvement of a particular fungal rot organism is uncertain. Pathogenicity studies using bacteria isolated from within rotten truffles as well as macerated tissue from affected fruiting bodies has failed to demonstrate the induction of symptoms in healthy tissue under both field and laboratory conditions. The use of cultural treatments to encourage truffles to form deeper in the soil profile has shown some promise. Soil tillage using a rotary hoe between the tree rows resulted in a 50% reduction in the amount of truffle affected by rot, although the precise mechanism for this effect requires further investigation. Reducing the rate and frequency of irrigation over the truffle development period only had a minor impact on the proportion of truffles forming at the soil surface. Further research is required to understand the etiology of truffle rot and aspects of truffiere management that can be used to ameliorate truffle rot.

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
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