Analysis of the molecular diversity of Olea europaea in the Mediterranean Island of Malta
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The island of Malta is a small densely populated land mass located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Genetic material from local olive tree varieties on the island was amplified using RAPD, 36 loci were subsequently generated and a dendrogram based on Jaccard’s similarity coefficient constructed. Analysis of clustering patterns indicated a high degree of genetic diversity (0.18–0.68), an early separation between the majority of the native varieties and more recently introduced varieties, supporting the idea of a history of limited genetic exchange and indicating a separate clustering for the majority of the ‘Malti’ and ‘Bidni’ varieties. Principal Component Analysis of banding patterns confirmed these clustering patterns and analysis of the incidence of bands for primers OPA-17, OPC-19, OPI-18 (vector correlation significance <0.01) as well as for OPAG-13, OPAN-15 (vector correlation between 0.01 and 0.05) showed strong correlation. Native Maltese varieties were characterised by a higher number of bands arising from the former group of primers indicating their use as a possible means to distinguish between local and imported varieties.
KeywordsGenetic diversity Olea europaea RAPD
Samples were provided by Mr Sam Cremona, Mr Marcel Loporto, Mr Michael Vella and Mr Saviour Vella. We thank Mr Sam Cremona, Dr Tim Gambin, Mr Saviour Vella for their insight on historical events. The research work carried out by Oriana Mazzitelli was partially funded by the Strategic Educational Pathways Scholarship (Malta) Scholarship and was part-financed by the European Union – European Social Fund (ESF). Research work carried out by Alan Calleja and Davide Sardella was funded through the University of Malta’s research funds.
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