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Native Truffles - The fun guys in fungi Friday, 27 May 2005 Presenter: Jonathan Wright
The specialised relationship between truffles and potoroos has been millions of years in the making.
They're smelly, hidden underground, found in association with tree roots and native mammals have evolved with and are now dependent on them for their survival.. Native truffles in Australia may not be as well known as their European equivalent but they are critically important to the functioning of our native ecosystems
Glen Johnson from the Department of Sustainability and Environment says Aussie truffles "are round things under the ground, they are about the size of a 20 cent piece.. they are full of spores and totally encased in the ground.."
There are key similarities between European and Australian truffles.. "Both have significant aromas. There are probably three things that make the English truffle unique or palatable. They have a great aroma, taste and distinctive texture which can make them marketable.."
"Australian truffles have a significant aroma and can be quite tasty but unfortunately from a marketing perspective they don't have that same hard texture and they are less likely to be marketed in that sense.."
"The aroma interestingly vary from rotten onions, freshly laid tarred or 'dog-poo' to nice smells things like peanut butter or banana"
"We have got probably in the order of 1500 species that are found across Australia.. More so in South East Australian high rainfall areas.. this compares to Europe who have about 250 species of truffles.."
Glen says animals that feed on truffles in Australia include the potoroos, bandicoot, and some native mice? In South East Australia the long footed potoroos relationship with truffles is important; "They are almost totally reliant on truffles, over the course of a year they probably have 50 species of truffle in their diet.."
Glen says potoroos and truffles have an evolutionary link, millions of years in the making "There is a nutritious body of fat and protein hidden in the middle of these truffles and they are surrounded by spores.. so in the process of getting to the goodies.. they are ingesting a whole lot of spores.. these things are spreading spores.. so it makes sure that there is that healthy spread and regeneration of spores through the forest .."
"The fungi is providing a protective mechanism for the root systems that they are adorning.. so they absorb minerals and nutrients from the soil and provide that to the plants and in turn from the roots of the trees they get carbohydrates to sugars for themselves.."