Characterization of a rare habitat of Terfezia boudieri Chatin in the coastal dunes of northwestern Algeria
Keywords:northwestern Algeria, coastal dunes, desert truffles, Terfezia boudieri, Helianthemum ledifolium, endomycorrhizae
The study focuses on a species of desert truffle Terfezia boudieri Chatin, an edible hypogeous mushroom with food value and economic and ecological interest in Algeria. This fungal species commonly growing in arid and semi-arid regions of Algeria in association with Helianthemum spp. was collected for the first time in a rare natural habitat located on the coastal dunes of northwestern Algeria. Surveys carried out in the Dunes forest of Stidia made it possible to determine the pedoclimatic parameters and to identify the natural host plant essential for the development of T. boudieri ascomata and the accompanying plant species. The results revealed that this species of desert truffle grows in a semi-arid bioclimate with maritime influences, on sandy-loamy, alkaline and non-saline soil. The natural production of ascomata is irregular from year to year ; it is closely linked to a well-distributed rainfall from October to April with a maximum in December and an adequate temperature during the fungal growth season. Floristic surveys reveal the presence of a variable phytodiversity represented by 15 families including that of H. ledifolium (Cistaceae) ; the only natural host plant forming typical endomycorrhizae with T. boudieri. However, although T. boudieri is still harvested from the Dunes forest of Stidia, the protection and conservation of this forest remains a priority today due to the degradation not only of the rare natural habitat of T. boudieri and of its host plant but above all of the floristic procession often vulnerable to ecological hazards and anthropogenic constraints.