Taming the Wild Truffle
Threatened by cheaper Chinese imports that have taken over half the French market, France's truffle industry is turning to cloning. Gourmet-food merchant Delpeyrat and refrigerated-transport group STEF-TFE are donating $135,000 for research to boost yields of the fungi that cluster around some trees' roots. By cloning the most-robust fungus strains, along with trees that have been hospitable to truffles, scientists hope to increase the annual harvest fivefold, says Gérard Chevalier, a specialist at France's National Institute for Agricultural Research. The cloned truffles could hit the market as early as 2013, he says.