How does a truffle travel? Sounds like a cheesy joke buts its a serious ecological question. Truffles are underground fungi that are dug up by animals and spread throughout forests. Their presence in the soil helps plants survive and cause soils to be turned over by animals.
Fungi provide vital ecosystem functions by forming mycorrhizal associations with plants and are vital to the overall health of ecosystems. Many of the fungi that form these associations are below-ground and rely on fungus-eating animals to dig them up and ingest their spore-containing tissues.
In 2018 Todd Elliott was the recipient of an In Situ Science Research Award. Todd’s research investigates the diets of rare mammals that are important dispersers of underground fungi. This research funding helped Todd travel to the Australian Museum in Sydney, where he analysed the gut samples of mammal specimens and evaluate the role fungi are playing in their diets.
Thanks to the University of New England for their generous support of this scheme.