Truffle discoveries of young ISU scientists
21 November 2022

Young scientists of the ISU Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Laboratory have discovered a number of useful substances and properties in truffle mushrooms that can be used in agriculture, medicine, science and the food industry.

For reference: in 2020, the project of young scientists of the ISU Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Laboratory for the study of truffle mushrooms and the creation of a truffle farm received the three million rubles support from the Russian Science Foundation (RSF). This year, the laboratory team received a grant from the RSF to continue the research.

For the study, scientists used several types of truffles: Black Summer, White Russian, Piemonte White, etc. The first type is most convenient for obtaining and studying its mycelium, from which the fruit body is formed. Studies of their chemical and symbiontic composition were carried out with all other types of truffles (truffle symbionts are microorganisms that live in the fruit body of the truffle and benefit it and the soil in which they live). A team of young scientists demonstrated a wide variety of bacteria and fungi that enter into symbiosis with the truffle mushroom and change their composition depending on the area where the truffle grows, its type, age, etc.

Agricultural industry

The culture of growing truffles has existed for a long time, but the process itself causes difficulties, because truffles are special by nature: they require certain environmental conditions, such as temperature, soil composition, etc. Scientists note that laboratory conditions would be ideal for growing truffles.

Ekaterina Malygina, junior research associate at the ISU Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Laboratory:

"The possibility of using truffle mushrooms in agriculture lies in their beneficial properties for plants. The results of the analysis shown in foreign literature show that truffles have a beneficial effect on plants, improving their metabolism and accelerating their growth. To study the symbiosis of higher plants and fungal mycelium (also called mycorrhizae), our team uses plants such as Siberian cedar (Pinus sibirica), Cinnamon rose (Rosa cinnamomea), Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)."


Truffle is a storehouse of nutrients. The large amount of protein, carbohydrates and fatty acids can allow the use of truffle as biologically active additives. In addition to this, ISU scientists have found in truffles a spectrum of low-molecular compounds with antitumor, analgesic, anti-inflammatory and even antioxidant activity.

What’s more: euphoretics were found in the core of the truffle mushroom – substances that affect the receptors of brain cells. Scientists are confident that in the future these substances can be used as a pain relieving medication.

Food industry

The value of this mushroom is undoubted, but the young scientists suggest adding the potential of its mycelium to function as a source of food and as possible meat replacement. Of course, this implies its use on a production scale.

Ekaterina Malygina:

"The truffle is a valuable product and its structure is extraordinary. In the future, biologists can use truffle mycelium to produce functional foods."

The study of truffles continues. Now scientists are faced with the task of determining the characteristics of Russian truffles and their differences from Italian and French truffle mushrooms. The study of the symbiotic organisms of these fungi and their beneficial properties to facilitate the truffle plantation setup in the Irkutsk region is also continuing.