It is commonly believed that truffles, like other fungi, are homothallic, meaning that they reproduce themselves, because fungi that reproduce this way do not need a sexual partner. It was believed that truffle cultivation relied only on the environment and nutrition; now we know that is wrong.
A study by Dr Francis Martin from the Institut National Français de Recherche en Agriculture prompted the discovery of the black truffle’s numerous enzymes that are implicated in the production of aromatic molecules containing sulphur. The sulphur-containing molecules produced include methanethiol, 3-metoxy propanol, dimethyl sulphide, dimethyl bisulfide and dimethyl trisulfide. These molecules are largely responsible for the aromatic signature of the truffle. Granted, each of these molecules emits a sulphurous odour, they also remind us of the smell of garlic, onion and meat, in addition to exuding vegetal notes. Collectively, the mixture of aromas produced by the black truffle also reminds us of musk and of soil, which has led some admirers to qualify as “sexy”.