Original Paper

Tree Genetics & Genomes

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 213-221

First online:

Substantial genetic diversity in cultivated Moroccan olive despite a single major cultivar: a paradoxical situation evidenced by the use of SSR loci

  • B. KhadariAffiliated withConservatoire Botanique National Méditerranéen de PorquerollesUMR DAP, INRA Email author 
  • , J. CharafiAffiliated withLaboratoire de Biotechnologie et Phytopathologie Moléculaire, Faculté des Sciences et Techniques Guéliz
  • , A. MoukhliAffiliated withUR Amélioration Génétique des Plantes, INRA
  • , M. AterAffiliated withEcologie et Biologie des Populations, Faculté des Sciences de Tétouan

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To assess the genetic diversity in Moroccan cultivated olive, Olea europaea L. subsp. europaea, we performed molecular analysis of olive trees sampled in four geographic zones representing all areas of traditional olive culture. The analysis of 215 trees using 15 simple sequence repeat (SSR) loci revealed 105 alleles distributed among 60 SSR profiles. The analysis of chloroplast deoxyribonucleic acid polymorphism for these 60 olive genotypes allowed to identify four chlorotypes: 42 CE1, one CE2, nine COM1 and eight CCK. Among the 60 SSR profiles, 52 corresponded to cultivated olive trees for which neither denomination nor characterisation is available. These local olive genotypes displayed a spatial genetic structuring over the four Moroccan geographic zones (northwest, north centre, Atlas and southwest), as pairwise Fst values ranged from 0.0394 to 0.1383 and varied according to geographic distance. As single alleles detected in local olive were also observed in Moroccan oleaster populations, results suggest that plant material was mainly selected from indigenous populations. The assumption that Picholine marocaine cultivar is a multi-clonal cultivar was not supported by our data because we found a single genotype for 112 olive trees representing 31 to 93% of the olives sampled locally in the 14 different areas. Picholine marocaine and the few other named cultivars do not seem to belong to the same gene pools as the unnamed genotypes cultivated only locally. The situation is paradoxical: a substantial genetic diversity in Moroccan olive germplasm, probably resulting from much local domestication, but a single cultivar is predominant.


Olea europaea L. SSR genotyping DNA chloroplast polymorphism Spatial genetic structure Local olive domestication