Toutsuite Social Club
Hear what Dr. Paul Thomas and Robert Chang of the American Truffle Company have to say about the science and business of truffle cultivation, plus meet Bill Collins and his truffle dog Rico.
Chief Scientist, American Truffle Company
Managing Director, Mycorrhizal Systems Ltd.
Dr. Paul Thomas is currently lead researcher and managing director of Mycorrhizal Systems Ltd., as well as Partner and Chief Scientist of American Truffle Company. Being absolutely passionate about truffles and the understanding of their biology, Dr. Thomas is actively engaged in many areas of truffle research. Dr. Thomas received his Bachelor of Science with honors in Natural Environmental Science from the University of Sheffield (England), followed shortly by a doctoral dissertation, focusing on long distance signaling pathways within the plant kingdom, which is central in truffle cultivation. Having published throughout the course of his study, Dr. Thomas quickly earned his Ph.D. from the University of Sheffield.
Towards the end of his doctoral studies, Dr. Thomas was awarded a university grant to commercialize the technology developed during his time at Sheffield and enhance a new system he pioneered to inoculate trees with numerous truffle species. Having actively researched European truffles since 2001, Dr. Thomas has built a solid reputation and developed what is now the world’s largest and most diverse range of truffle research sites worldwide. Spanning four continents and a range of climatic and edaphic (soil) zones, results from these ongoing sites have changed and challenged our understanding of truffles and their biology.
Dr. Thomas was also the winning business proposal on BBC’s Dragon’s Den program. For those of us in North America unfamiliar with the program, it is much akin to American Idol for entrepreneurs. It was a national television program in which many entrepreneurs presented their business proposals while a panel of successful business leaders (the Dragons) evaluated and picked a winner to award an investment grant. Dr. Thomas has since then appeared regularly on TV and radio programs, and numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times have written about Dr. Thomas and his work.
Thanks to the research network developed by Dr. Thomas, there are few other people worldwide who can claim to have such a diverse and informed understanding of the truffle fungus. Fruits from these studies are disseminated to client-partners worldwide and he is regularly asked to give talks, appear in the media and write articles. The majority of this research is kept out of the public domain and used solely to help client-partner truffle farmers, but choice findings have been offered at numerous international conferences and several papers are currently being prepared for publication that challenge our understanding of the relationship between truffles and their symbionts.