, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 515–527 | Cite as

Characterization of the reproductive mode and life cycle of the whitish truffle T. borchii

  • Beatrice Belfiori
  • Claudia Riccioni
  • Francesco Paolocci
  • Andrea Rubini
Original Article


Truffles are the fruiting structures of ascomycetes in the genus Tuber. Because of their economic importance, truffles have been cultivated for many years using artificially inoculated host plants. Nevertheless, the life cycle and reproductive mode of Tuber spp. are still poorly understood. In filamentous ascomycetes, sexual reproduction is genetically controlled by the mating-type (MAT) locus. Among Tuber spp., the MAT locus has been recently characterized in the black truffles Tuber melanosporum and Tuber indicum. Here, by using sequence information derived from these species and from a Tuber borchii expressed sequence tag (EST) showing similarity to the mat1 gene of Alternaria brassicicola, we embarked on a chromosome-walking procedure to sequence the complete MAT region of T. borchii. This fungus produces highly commercialized whitish truffles and represents a model species for addressing basic questions concerning the life cycle of Tuber spp. We show that T. borchii is heterothallic, as its MAT locus is organized into two idiomorphs, each harbored by different mycelial strains. The alignment of the MAT locus from black truffles and T. borchii reveals that extensive sequence rearrangements and inversions occurred between these species. Moreover, by coupling mating-type analyses to karyological observation, we show that mycelia isolated from ascocarps and mycorrhizae are formed by homokaryotic hyphae.


Mating type Tuber borchii Life cycle Truffles 



The authors are grateful to Mr. L. Tanzi and Mr. L. Gallo for providing some truffle samples used in this study and to Dr. F. Martin and Dr. C. Murat (INRA France) for their support and encouragement throughout the progress of the research work. This study was supported by Regione Umbria (project: “Indagini ecologiche, genetiche e molecolari per potenziare la produzione di tartufi pregiati in Umbria”) and the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (PRIN 2008 project: “Il ciclo biologico del tartufo: interazioni genotipo-ambiente”).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors are named on a patent application entitled “Molecular method for the identification of mating-type genes of truffles species,” serial number WO/2012/032098; PCT/EP2011/065501, filed on 07-09-2011 by CNR, Plant Genetics Institute and INRA.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Beatrice Belfiori
    • 1
  • Claudia Riccioni
    • 1
  • Francesco Paolocci
    • 1
  • Andrea Rubini
    • 1
  1. 1.National Research Council, Institute of Biosciences and Bioresources - Perugia DivisionPerugiaItaly

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