Manually colored scanning-electron-micrograph (SEM) by Martin Oeggerli, kindly supported by Richard Splivallo. The picture shows isolated bacteria from a truffle (Tuber melanosporum).
Truffles (i.e. the Périgord truffle Tuber melanosporum or the white truffle Tuber magnatum), Owing to their unique aromas, truffle fungi (Tuber spp.) are regarded as most precious food delicacies. Since many years, scientists try to decrypt aroma production in truffles. Over the last decade, Prof. Richard Splivallo has explored along with international colleagues the genomes of various truffle species as well as the specific contribution of bacteria in truffle aroma formation. These scientists could show that, based on the genomes, truffles seemed to possess most of the molecular machinery needed to produce many of their flavor compounds. Yet, Prof. Splivallo and colleagues could also show that bacteria colonizing truffle fruiting bodies were responsible for the production of key truffle volatiles. This illustrates that overall truffle aroma results from the intimate interaction of truffles with bacteria that are trapped inside of truffles.