December 2, 2021

Beyond Going Long

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Valuable gourmet ingredients are a daily snack for these forest birds

Patagonians flock to such truffles for a delicious meal.

Matthew E Smith

Whenever I get a menu at a restaurant, the first thing I look for is that I find something about truffles. Truffle risotto, truffle fries, truffle aioli, whatever you can think of. Turns out I’m not alone. Some Patagonian birds seem to do the same when exploring the woods for dinner.

Of course, there is already evidence that mammals other than humans often enjoy the umami nut mushroom. Animals can help keep delicious pasta alive by spreading truffle seeds as they are excreted in the wild. And now scientists from the University of Florida Publish the study This shows that even creatures with feathers can not get away from luxury.

However, a study published in Current Biology Thursday says that these gastronomes enjoy chucao tapculos and black-throated huit-huets, which isn’t the type of cake we know and love. In fact, there are some types of truffles that are very different from the kind found on the pantry shelves at Eleven Madison Park. Those looking for these birds may not like them and will look like colorful berries.

Lead author Matthew E., associate professor in the University of Florida’s Department of Plant Pathology. According to Smith, truffles were discovered as a favorite food of these birds during one of his previous research projects in Patagonia.

“We work in the forest, dig the soil, dig truffles, and we see that these birds are still watching us and controlling the areas where we disturbed the soil,” he said. in the current situation.

“Then we will find truffles stabbed by them,” he continued. Marcus Kaiva, first author of the study: “Although we saw a bird eating tubers in front of it. All this led us to wonder if these birds hunt truffles?” Kava, a researcher in the same department at the University of Florida, had primarily a special bird chopping bench. Small to delicious food.

Fancy Bird No. 1, IK Chokao Tapakulu.

Neil Bowman / Getty Images

After an amazing experience watching flying creatures discover and consume mushroom-like delicacies, Kaivas and Smith delve deeper into this mystery. They examined bird feces to see if truffle DNA was present.

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Fancy Bird No. 2, cap with black neck.

Kagan Hekki Sekarcioglu / Getty Images

“DNA-based diet analysis is exciting because it provides a new perspective on interactions between organisms that have been difficult to observe directly,” said Michele Gosino, one of the study’s authors and former researchers in Smith’s lab.

“Because fecal sampling does not adversely affect the target species, I think these methods are invaluable for future study and protection of common and rare species,” Gosino said.

After analysis, 42% of Chucao Tapaculo faeces and 38% of Huet-Huet faeces showed strong DNA evidence of truffle-like birds, which appeared to have gnawed into pieces of lightly colored clay. The team then used a fluorescence microscope to test whether the germs in the stool were still viable. They meant that birds help mammals spread truffles by spreading spores when they are empty.

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Truffles in the jungle of Patagonia.

Matthew E Smith

Scientists also claim that these fungi play an important role in the forest ecosystem: they help colonize tree roots.

“These fungi form the mycelium, the relationship by which the fungus helps the plant absorb nutrients from the plant in exchange for sugars,” Kayava explained. In the future, the team is trying to understand why the studied truffles are so aesthetically similar to light berries. They suspect that this is due to an evolutionary adaptation, which better attracts birds of the highest class.

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