Truffles, mushrooms and mycorrhizas
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World’s southernmost productive Périgord black truffle truffière  
11 July 2015

Bannockburn vineyard Black Quail, known for its excellent Pinot Noir, is now the southernmost producing Périgord Black truffière in the world.  After 12 years of patience and tending their truffière owners Rod and Mirani Keillor were rewarded with a crop of 502 g of Périgord Black truffle on Saturday 10 July 2015.

"There is mystery, folklore and science around the factors needed to stimulate fruiting," said Mr Keillor. "This year the stars were aligned for us. It's a satisfying and exciting time and is yet another first for the region."

The Périgord black truffle (Tuber melanosporum) fungus, fruits from June to August about 10 cm below ground on the roots of the host tree. In a good example of nature at work, the hazelnut host trees provide the necessary conditions for the truffle to grow and the truffles help the hazelnut trees.

Truffle hunting dogs Ace and Pluto were used last year at the Black Quail truffière, but left with their tails between their legs. This year they left with their tails wagging after a productive day hunting and digging for truffles.

For Central Otago, the Black Quail truffle and Pinot Noir will provide another arrow in the region's celebrated food and wine quiver.

The Black Quail truffière is on Molyneux soil that has a natural pH of 7.4.

Research Funding in New Zealand

The system of funding scientific research in New Zealand was without doubt the most stressful aspect of my research on truffles and other edible mycorrhizal mushrooms when I worked in the public sector.  This will be fully outlined another day but the highlight was certainly the discontinuation of public funding for research on truffles the year after we produced the first commercial harvest in the Southern Hemisphere in 1997.  So I think I am entitled to have my tuppence worth of input into the debate that is currently intensifying in New Zealand.

A competitive system has been used for the allocation of state sector funding in New Zealand since the late 1980s (Innovation Dynamics 2005; MoRST 1998-99).  The reasons given for the introduction of this system have been discussed and summarised by Doug Edmeades (2004, 2006) derived from the Beattie Report (1986), Arbuckle Report (1988) and Hanzard (CRI Act:1st, 2nd and 3rd Readings, and the Report from the Education and Science Committee).  
Click here for the full document

The above document prepared about 2007 was not the first time I had questioned the ethics and morality of the New Zealand science reforms that began in the late 1980s and still continue.  Below are links to two other documents:

Anon. (Hall, I.R.) 1990.  Viewpoint: The scientist and science in the new scientific environment. The Otago Branch of the Royal Society Newsletter 6: 2.

Anon. (Hall, I.R.) 2003.  Science, scientists and the public good. In: J.S. Rowarth & G.P. Sutherland (eds), Preserving New Zealand's wealth generating capacity. Miscellaneous series of Royal Society of New Zealand 62: 73-76.

Extract from Hall, I.R & Zambonelli, A. 2012.  Mycorrhizal mushrooms-still the next frontier.  In: J. Zhang, H Wang & M Chen (Eds).  Mushroom Science XVIII.  Beijing, China Agricultural Press.  Pp 16-27.