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The Mediterranean black truffle - one of the most expensive delicacies in the world, worth as much as 1,700 pounds per kilogramme - has been successfully cultivated in the UK, as climate change threatens its native habitat, scientists said today.





Researchers from the University of Cambridge in the UK and Mycorrhizal Systems Ltd (MSL) confirmed that a black truffle has been cultivated in the UK for the first time: the farthest north that the species has ever been found.

It was grown as part of a programme in Monmouthshire, South Wales, run by MSL in collaboration with local farmers.

The results of the programme, reported in the journal Climate Research, suggest that truffle cultivation may be possible in many parts of the UK.

After nine years of waiting, the truffle was unearthed in March 2017 by a trained dog named Bella.

The aromatic fungus was growing within the root system of a Mediterranean oak tree that had been treated to encourage truffle production.

Further microscopic and genetic analysis confirmed that Bella's find was indeed a Perigord black truffle, researchers said.

"It is a risky investment for farmers - even though humans have been eating truffles for centuries, we know remarkably little about how they grow and how they interact with their host trees," said Professor Ulf Buntgen of Cambridge's Department of Geography.

"Since the system is underground, we can't see how truffles are affected by different environmental conditions, or even when the best time to water them is. There is been no science behind it until now, so progress is slow," said Buntgen.

The black truffle is one of the most expensive delicacies in the world, worth as much as 1,700 pounds per kilogramme, researchers said.

Black truffles are prized for their intense flavour and aroma, but they are difficult and time-consuming to grow and harvest, and are normally confined to regions with a Mediterranean climate.

In addition, their Mediterranean habitat has been affected by drought due to long-term climate change, and yields are falling while the global demand continues to rise.