Ep. 60: Exploring the Endless Wonders of Truffle Fungi (feat. Dr. Matthew Smith)

Today on Mushroom Hour we are joined by the distinguished Dr. Matthew Smith. Dr. Smith is an Associate Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Florida and the curator of the UF Fungal Herbarium (FLAS). He teaches the UF mycology course and takes on the responsibility of identifying unknown fungi for a variety of Florida stakeholders, including the UF Plant Disease Clinic, UF-IFAS Extension Service, and the UF Veterinary School. His broad range of interests spans fungal ecology, evolution, and systematics. Dr. Smith has worked extensively on the biology and systematics of hypogeous fungi (“truffles”) and the ecology of plant-symbiotic ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi. However, he has also studied a variety of other fungal groups, including plant pathogens Armillaria mellea ("oak root fungus") and Claviceps purpurea (Ergot disease of grasses) as well as the nematode-destroying fungi (Orbiliales and other Ascomycota). Dr. Smith’s work combines the synergistic use of molecular, morphological, and culture-based methods in both laboratory and field settings.

Topics Covered:

  • Mycology Journey from Sonoma California to University of Florida  
  • What is a "Truffle"?  
  • Biology of Truffles  
  • Convergent Evolution of Truffle Fungi  
  • Edible Truffles & Genus Tuber  
  • Zygomycetes  
  • North American Truffles  
  • Commercial Truffle Farming  
  • Truffle Foraging & Truffle Hounds  
  • Role of Birds in Truffle Reproduction in Southern S. America  
  • Applied Uses of Mycorrhizal Fungi  
  • Tropical Ectomycorrhizal Fungi  
  • Gondwana & Biogeography  
  • Florida Museum of Natural History  

Episode Resources:

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