Sunday, 28 March 2010
I just read in the NYTimes* online:
It turns out the truffles too have a sex life, said Dr. Francis Martin, a plant biologist at the University of Nancy in France and leader of the research team. The precious fungi had long been thought to lead an asexual existence, but Dr. Martin and his colleagues have found that they have two sexes or mating types.
Which is it? Sexes? Or “mating types”?
While you’re thinking about that, remember this next time you take a bite of truffle:
Last, there are the truffle flies which lay their eggs in the truffle. From the fungus’s perspective, the insects are just another way of spreading its spores. So it attracts them by releasing anisole and veratrole, two insect pheromones, when the truffle has reached maturity. Truffles can often be detected by looking for congregations of truffle flies.
Don’t the fly’s eggs and larvae degrade the edibility of the truffle? It seems the opposite is the case. “If collected at late maturation stages, the truffles will likely carry eggs and larvae—adding proteins and aroma to the truffle,” Dr. Martin said.
Mmmm. Fly eggs….
* “Truffles Have Sex Lives, Too” by Nicholas Wade, dated 20 Mar 2010.