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Forests of the Pacific Northwest have been an epicenter for the evolution of truffle fungi with over 350 truffle species and 55 genera currently identified. Truffle fungi develop their reproductive fruit-goodies typically below ground, so they are harder to find and study than mushrooms that fruit aboveground. After 70 years of extensive collection and study, Corvallis-based mycologists have acquired an unparalleled understanding of these species. This report taps that extensive knowledge and explores the fascinating evolution, diversity and ecology of truffle fungi in the Pacific Northest.
The primary objective of this report is to educate the public, resource managers, and other scientistsabout the diversity and importance of fungi that form truffles in forest ecosystems. Primary characteristics, place of occurrence and the history of their discovery are briefly described. Evolution of the hypogeous (belowground) fruiting habit and truffle diversity in the Pacific Northwest are described in more detail. Detailed descriptions and keys to genera are included. Detailed chapters on ecology, community structure, and ecosystem function of truffles are followed by effects of various silvicultural practies on truffle populations. Furthermore, culinary uses of wild truffles that are commercially harvested in Pacific Northwest forests and sold as gourmet fungi to restaurants and the public are discussed. The report concludes with a section that integrates current ecological knowledge and addresses approaches to conserve and manage this valuable resource.