Truffles are hypogeous ectomycorrhizal fungi. They belong to the genus Tuber and are currently considered a hot spot in fungal biology due to their ecological and economic relevance. Among all the species, Tuber magnatum is the most appreciated because of its special taste and aroma. The aim of this work was to set up a protocol to detect T. magnatum in soil and to assess its distribution in a natural truffle-ground. We used the beta-tubulin gene as a marker to identify T. magnatum in the soil. This gene allowed us to trace the distribution of the fungus over the entire truffle-ground. Tuber magnatum was found, in one case, 100 m from the productive host plant. This study highlights that T. magnatum mycelium is more widespread than can be inferred from the distribution of truffles and ectomycorrhizas. Interestingly, a new haplotype - never described from fruiting body material - was identified. The specific detection of T. magnatum in the soil will allow to unravel the ecology of this fungus, following its mycelial network. Moreover, this new tool may have practical importance in projects aimed to increase large-scale truffle production, checking for T. magnatum persistence in plantations.
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