Taxonomy and systematics of truffles

Native truffles, both true and false, do occur in Australasia. They are incredibly diverse, with new species and even genera still being found on almost any field trip. Approximately 300 species have been described since the late 1890s. However, estimates are that as many as 2,000 species may occur in Australasia. This diversity is reflected in the ratio of truffle to agaricoid species within major families such as the Russulaceae, Cortinariaceae and Boletaceae, which is skewed towards the truffle forms in Australia compared to Europe or North America.

The general characteristics distinguishing truffle genera from related agaric taxa are that the spore-bearing tissue remains enclosed by the pileus, the spores are not actively discharged and the fruit-bodies are often hypogeal. Though truffle fruit-bodies are highly variable in colour, texture and form, some microscopic features of pileus structure, sterile cells, and spore ornamentation and colour do give indications of affinities. However, for some truffle taxa, the very simple morphology makes determining affinities difficult. In many cases molecular data is an essential additional set of characters.

Truffle fruit-body forms occur in most of the major families of Basidiomycota. Traditionally placed in their own genera, mounting evidence from molecular research suggests that most are not monophyletic. Not only have truffle fruit-body forms arisen many times within particular agaricoid genera, few wholly truffle clades exist.


Project team

Support

  • Australian Biological Resources Study

Publications

Catcheside, P. and Lebel, T. (2009). The truffle genus Cribbea (Physalacriaceae, Agaricales) in Australia. Australian Systematic Botany 22, 39–55.

Trappe, J.M., Bougher, N.L., Castellano, M.A., Claridge, A.W., Gates, G.M., Lebel, T. and Ratkowsky, D.A. (2008). A preliminary census of the macrofungi of Mt Wellington, Tasmania – the sequestrate species. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 142, 85–95.

Lebel, T. and Tonkin, J.E. (2007). Australasian species of Macowanites are sequestrate species ofRussula (Russulaceae, Basidiomycota). Australian Systematic Botany 20, 355–381.

Lebel, T., Thompson, D.K., and Udovicic, F. (2004). Descriptions and affinities of a sequestrate fungus, Barchiella willisiana T.Lebel gen. et sp. nov. (Agaricales). Mycological Research 108, 206–213.

Lebel, T. (2003). Australasian truffle-like fungi XIII. CystangiumAustralian Systematic Botany 16, 371–400.

Lebel, T. (2003). Australasian truffle-like fungi XIV GymnomycesAustralian Systematic Botany 16, 401–426.

Bougher, N. and Lebel, T. (2002). Australasian sequestrate truffle-like fungi XII. Amarrendia gen. nov.: an astipitate, sequestrate relative of Torrendia and Amanita (Amanitaceae) from Australia. Australian Systematic Botany 15, 513–525.

Lebel, T. (2002). A new species of Zelleromyces (Russulales) from Australia. Australasian Mycologist 21, 4–8.

Lebel, T. (2002). The sequestrate Russulales of New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 40, 489–509.

Lebel, T. and Castellano, M.A. (2002). Type studies of sequestrate Russulales. Part II. Species related to Russula from Australia and New Zealand. Mycologia 94, 327–354.

Trappe, J.M., Lebel, T. and Castellano, M.A. (2002). Nomenclatural revisions in the sequestrate russuloid genera. Mycotaxon 81, 195–214.

Bougher, N. and Lebel, T. (2001). Sequestrate (truffle-like) fungi of Australia and New Zealand. Australian Systematic Botany 14, 439–484.

Lebel, T. (2001). Native truffles from Australia. The Victorian Naturalist 118, 38–43.

Lebel, T. and Trappe, J.M. (2000). Type studies of sequestrate Russulales. Part I. Generic type species. Mycologia 92, 1188–1205.

Lebel, T. (1999). Going underground: truffles and truffle-like fungi. Botanic Magazine 8, 31–34.

Lebel, T. and Castellano, M.A. (1999). Australian truffle-like fungi. IX. History and current trends in the study of the taxonomy of sequestrate macrofungi from Australia and New Zealand. Australian Systematic Botany 12, 803–817.