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Scientists unearth secrets of Périgord truffles, the culinary 'black diamond'

Date:
December 4, 2013
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Just in time for the holidays when cooks in France and elsewhere will be slipping bits of the coveted black Périgord truffle under their turkeys' skin for a luxurious flavor, scientists are revealing the secrets that give the culinary world's "black diamond" its unique, pungent aroma. Their study could lead to better ways to determine the freshness and authenticity of the pricey delicacy.

Truffles.
Credit: © dream79 / Fotolia

Just in time for the holidays when cooks in France and elsewhere will be slipping bits of the coveted black Périgord truffle under their turkeys' skin for a luxurious flavor, scientists are revealing the secrets that give the culinary world's "black diamond" its unique, pungent aroma. Their study, which could lead to better ways to determine the freshness and authenticity of the pricey delicacy, appears in ACS' Journal of Proteome Research.

Mark Baker, Shoba Ranganathan and colleagues note that the harvest of the Périgord truffle, a fungus that grows underground around the roots of oak and hazelnut trees in winter, has plummeted recently due to climate change, the loss of arable land and the cultivation of lower-quality truffles. Paired with an increase in demand from "foodies" seeking exotic flavors, prices for this truffle have skyrocketed to more than $900 per pound. Though long celebrated in the kitchen, only recently has the black Périgord truffle garnered scientific attention. In 2010, European scientists published the full genome of the Périgord, but this raw blueprint remained largely un-mined. In their report, Baker and Ranganathan's team go beyond the genetic code to identify and describe the truffle's proteins for a better understanding of the culinary delight.

By marrying techniques in bioinformatics and proteomics, they combed databases to unearth what proteins make the black Périgord truffle, which they obtained from the Marshalls' Terra Preta truffière in Braidwood, New South Wales, unique. They found that more than 2,500 proteins out of the truffle's nearly 13,000 were similar to existing proteins in other fungi, and they identified nine proteins that contribute to the cherished aroma. "This study has resulted in the functional characterization of novel proteins to increase our biological understanding of this organism and uncovered biomarkers of authenticity, freshness and perfume maturation," the scientists state.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Mohammad Tawhidul Islam, Abidali Mohamedali, Gagan Garg, Javed Mohammed Khan, Alain-Dominique Gorse, Jeremy Parsons, Peter Marshall, Shoba Ranganathan, Mark S. Baker. Unlocking the Puzzling Biology of the Black Périgord TruffleTuber melanosporum. Journal of Proteome Research, 2013; 131106151302009 DOI: 10.1021/pr400650c

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Scientists unearth secrets of Périgord truffles, the culinary 'black diamond'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131204112014.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2013, December 4). Scientists unearth secrets of Périgord truffles, the culinary 'black diamond'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131204112014.htm
American Chemical Society. "Scientists unearth secrets of Périgord truffles, the culinary 'black diamond'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131204112014.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

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