Disentangling truffle ecology

Project lead

Martina Peter

Project staff

Ulf Büntgen, Dr. Willy Tegel, Ulrich Stobbe, Ludger Sproll, Dr. Fernando Martinez, Dr. Claude Murat

Project duration

2012 - 2034


We study the complex biotic and abiotic ecology and the population genetics of the Burgundy truffle (Tuber aestivum) in Switzerland and the German pre-Alps, with particular emphasis on the ecological and climatological drivers for the productivity and phenology of this most valuable truffle species.

Truffles (Tuber spp.) are highly appreciated as delicacies and are traded for prices up to €5,000/kg on the international market. The Burgundy truffle (T. aestivum syn. uncinatum) has a European-wide distribution, exeeding the traditional habitats in France, and is estimated to be very abundant also in parts of Switzerland. However, the ecological drivers and geographical patterns of this truffle species remain puzzling.

The project will study the complex ecology of the Burgundy truffle in the Swiss and German pre-Alps with particular emphasis on biological, climatological and physiological factors and processes relevant for the phenology and productivity of this species. We will perform large scale population genetic analyses in combination with environmental parameters, on selected sites we will study small scale spatial genetic patterns and mating type distribution of the Burgundy truffle.


  • Long-term monitoring of 16 natural truffle sites with a three-week periodicity with the help of trained truffle dogs. Continuous soil temperature and soil humidity measurements and automatic dendrometers.
  • Microsatellite and mating type analyses