Genetics and Molecular Biology of Olives

  • Georgios Banilas
  • Polydefkis Hatzopoulos


Olive is one of the most important fruit crops in the Mediterranean basin, where it has been cultivated since ancient times for its high-value oil and drupe consumption. Over the centuries numerous cultivars have been evolved by human intervention that possess desirable qualitative/quantitative traits or better adaptation to specific environments. In the past decade, the use of molecular markers has permitted significant advances in identifying centers of early olive domestication and routes of genotype diffusion. First-generation molecular marker techniques have been widely employed as powerful and versatile tools for cultivar identification, parentage analysis, evaluation of synonymy/homonymy, genetic diversity studies, genome mapping, and the construction of genetic linkage maps. Research so far points to a high degree of olive genetic variability in the Mediterranean basin that offers advantages for breeding in order to justify sustainable production of high-quality olive oil in a constantly changing environment. Next-generation high-throughput DNA technologies, like single nucleotide polymorphism genotyping platforms, are quite promising for the characterization of olive genetic plasticity and the development of quantitative trait loci markers. These high-throughput approaches will also reveal key components in the biosynthesis of bioactive molecules and antioxidants, crucial constituents of the exceptional olive oil quality. These strategies and outcomes could be used to improve olive cultivation and genomic selection within elite cultivars when combined for specific environmental niches. Complementary to these efforts, significant progress has been achieved toward understanding regulatory constituents, molecular mechanisms, and controlling circuits in fatty acid synthesis/modification and the triacylglycerol storage pathway in olive. Recently, key genes/enzymes in the olive lipoxygenase pathway have been characterized. These pathways have a major impact on the array of aroma compounds and eventually shape the typical characters of olive oil. Functional genome sequence analysis has started to elucidate molecular mechanisms governing important agronomical traits or providing tolerance to environmental constraints. This chapter serves as a synopsis of the resources in olive genomics and presents the state of the art on olive molecular biology studies underlying recent advances and “omics” approaches, possible drawbacks, and future perspectives.


Transcript Accumulation Olive Fruit Olive Cultivar Seed Tissue Week After Flowering 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Oenology and Beverage TechnologyTechnological Educational Institute of AthensAthensGreece
  2. 2.Laboratory of Molecular BiologyAgricultural University of AthensAthensGreece

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