Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 99, Issue 6, pp 2583–2592 | Cite as

Sulfur volatiles of microbial origin are key contributors to human-sensed truffle aroma

  • Richard SplivalloEmail author
  • Susan E. Ebeler
Biotechnological products and process engineering


Truffles are symbiotic fungi in high demand for the aroma of their fruiting bodies which are colonized by a diverse microbial flora. Specific sulfur containing volatiles (thiophene derivatives) characteristic of the white truffle Tuber borchii were recently shown to be derived from the bacterial community inhabiting truffle fruiting bodies. Our aim here was to investigate whether thiophene derivatives contributed to the human-sensed aroma of T. borchii. Furthermore, we questioned whether the concentration of thiophene volatiles was affected by freezing or whether it differed in truffles from distinct geographical origins. Gas chromatography–olfactometry (GC-O) analysis revealed that thiophene derivatives were major contributors to the aroma of T. borchii. Of four thiophene derivatives detected in this study, 3-methyl-4,5-dihydrothiophene was the most important one in terms of its contribution to the overall aroma. The relative concentration of thiophene derivatives was unaffected by freezing; however, it differed in samples collected in distinct geographical locations (Italy versus New Zealand). The causes of this variability might be differences in storage conditions and/or in bacterial community composition of the fruiting bodies; however, further work is needed to confirm these hypotheses. Overall, our results demonstrate that thiophene derivatives are major contributors to the human-sensed aroma of T. borchii.


Truffles Tuber borchii Thiophene derivatives Aroma-active compounds Volatiles Sensory analysis 



We thank Carolyn Doyle for technical support with the GC-O-MS and the sensory judges who took part in this study.


Financial support was provided through a grant from the German Research Foundation/Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), grant number 1191/4-1, and by the LOEWE research funding program of the government of Hessen, in the framework of the Integrative Fungal Research Cluster (IPF).

Ethics statement

Use of human subjects for this study was reviewed by the University of California Davis Institutional Review Board and was granted exempt status (Category 6).

Conflict of interest

RS declares that a patent has been filed regarding the production of truffle aroma using truffle-associated microbes (Splivallo and Maier 2011). The other author(s) declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biosciences, Campus RiedbergGoethe University FrankfurtFrankfurtGermany
  2. 2.Integrative Fungal Research Cluster (IPF)Frankfurt MainGermany
  3. 3.Department of Viticulture & Enology, One Shields AvenueUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA

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