Black Diamond of the Food World

Jan 09, 2014

A study published in the Journal of Proteome Research has uncovered some of the proteins responsible for the characteristic aroma and taste of the black Périgord truffle (Tuber melanosporum Vittad.), using a combined approach of bioinformatics and proteomic analysis.1

Found growing around the trunks of hazelnut and oak trees in a symbiotic relationship, the truffles are not routinely cultivated. However, they are highly sought after ingredients and can fetch prices of up to $2000 (US dollars) per kilogram. Recent changes in climate along with other factors have resulted in a decline in harvests — further increasing the market value of the truffle.

The genome of the black Périgord truffle was first sequenced in 2010. In the current study, the researchers functionally annotated this genome sequence and performed high-accuracy liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS–MS) proteomic analysis to validate the annotation. The study identified 6487 proteins from functional annotation, confirmed 836 using proteomic analysis, and pinpointed nine proteins as contributors to the aroma. — B.D.

Reference
1. M.S. Baker et al., Journal of Proteome Research DOI: 10.1021/pr400650c (2013).

This story originally appeared in The Column. Click here to view that issue.