Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

World-first Australian truffle find

07.01.2003



An Australian scientist has made a discovery which is electrifying world fungal biology - a new truffle genus related to the famous Amanita family, or fairy toadstools.

The Amanita family is famed worldwide for the red and white-spotted toadstools beloved of children’s fairy tales, the lethal Death Cap beloved of tabloid media, and a range of delicious edible fungi beloved of gourmets.

The find, by CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products mycologist Dr Neale Bougher, highlights Australia as one of the richest centers of truffle biodiversity on the planet.



Until Dr Bougher discovered the new fungus in the rejuvenating forest landscape of a former bauxite mine near Perth, WA, no one had ever found a truffle - or underground mushroom - related to Amanita.

"It’s not just a new species. It’s a whole new genus," he explains. "Scientists have been looking for this round the world for well over a century - and here it is, in Australia."

Since the original find by Dr Bougher, he and colleague Dr Teresa Lebel of Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens, have identified no fewer than five new species of what has now been scientifically named Amarrendia - a marriage of the names Amanita and Torrendia, the two families of fungi most closely related to the discovery.

The CSIRO researcher was part of a team studying landscape rehabilitation at the Darling Escarpment bauxite mine run by Alcoa World Alumina Australia - regarded as a global benchmark for successful restoration - when he literally unearthed the new genus.

"I had my suspicions the moment I picked it up in the field. I got a bit excited - but I couldn’t be absolutely certain. So I rushed back to the lab and put it under the microscope - and, immediately I saw the characteristic Amanita structures.

"I went crazy. At least, I am sure the people in the lab thought I was crazy. I was yelling "This has got to be a truffle Amanita," the (normally quite cool) Dr Bougher recalls.

The truffles in question are white and about the size of marbles, though Dr Bougher has since found specimens as large as a decent kiwifruit.

More important for him, however, is what the truffle means for Australia’s environment.

First, it adds to a growing view that Australia is one of the planet’s mega-biodiverse centers for truffles, which are important elements in soil health.

"So far we’ve found nearly 90 genera of truffles and over 300 species here. 35 per cent of the genera and 95 per cent of the species occur nowhere else on Earth," he says. "That rivals the uniqueness of our plants - and we’re only scratching the surface in what we know about fungi."

Second, truffles are a favourite food of native marsupials like potoroos and woylies and rely on them to disperse their spores.

Whether the Amarrendia truffles are safe to eat or not is unknown, as Dr Bougher says specimens are so precious every one has been taken into scientific collections. However, as no other truffle has proved poisonous and because they rely on mammals to transport their spores, he thinks it unlikely, in spite of their toxic Amanita relatives. He advises against anyone trying them until this has been checked out, however.

Third, underground fungi, including truffles, are essential to landscape health. Fungi like truffles unlock nutrients for native plants, and break down the tough Australian timber to form fertile new soil. They create hollows in logs where birds and animals can nest, and turn hard wood into food for insects.

Many eucalypts, wattles and sheoaks depend critically on certain fungi, making them a primary factor in the survival and renewal of landscapes. In fact, Dr Bougher argues, we face difficulty repairing and revegetating our landscapes unless the soil fungi are in place to help the trees and shrubs to grow, and nutrient cycling to re-establish. We need to include them in "best practice" restoration planning and operations.

"Many mysteries remain unresolved in the Kingdom of the Fungi - and Australia has a big role to play in helping to unravel them," he says. "The ’truffle Amanita’ is an example of how much there is to find.

"So far only about ten per cent of Australia’s native fungi are known to science, yet they are one of the most pervasive and important life forms on the continent. "

The discovery came about as a result of a partnership in landscape restoration between Alcoa World Alumina Australia, Worsley Alumina Pty. Ltd., Murdoch University and CSIRO - highlighting the value of a team approach to science, he adds.

To view a larger version of the image above click here.

More information:

Dr Neale Bougher, CSIRO Forestry & Forest Products, 08 9333 6673
Neale.Bougher@csiro.au

Mick Crowe, CSIRO Forestry & Forest Products, 02 6281 8357, 0419 696 184

Rosie Schmedding | EurekAlert!

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht MicroRNA helps cancer evade immune system
19.09.2017 | Salk Institute

nachricht Ruby: Jacobs University scientists are collaborating in the development of a new type of chocolate
18.09.2017 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

Im Focus: Silencing bacteria

HZI researchers pave the way for new agents that render hospital pathogens mute

Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...

Im Focus: Artificial Enzymes for Hydrogen Conversion

Scientists from the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion report in the first issue of the new journal JOULE.

Cell Press has just released the first issue of Joule, a new journal dedicated to sustainable energy research. In this issue James Birrell, Olaf Rüdiger,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

New quantum phenomena in graphene superlattices

19.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A simple additive to improve film quality

19.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>