Strategies for Olive (Olea europaea L.) Breeding: Cultivated Genetic Resources and Crossbreeding

  • Luis RalloEmail author
  • Diego Barranco
  • Concepción M. Díez
  • Pilar Rallo
  • María Paz Suárez
  • Carlos Trapero
  • Fernando Pliego-Alfaro


Olive cultivars represent an invaluable heritage of genetic variability selected over more than 5500 years of cultivation. This high diversity of local cultivars is a common feature in traditional olive-producing countries. Most cultivars are old and continue to be cultivated around areas where they have likely been selected. Crossbreeding in olives was only initiated in the second half of the twentieth century and currently represents the most promising strategy to provide farmers with new cultivars that are well adapted to the new high density olive plantations spreading in traditional and new olive-growing countries. This chapter focuses on cultivated genetic resources and crossbreeding strategies in olive. Exploration, cataloguing and authentication for the conservation and sustainability of true-to-type cultivars by morphological and DNA markers in the Network of Germplasm Banks promoted by the International Olive Council, is the most extensive and worldwide initiative to date. The strategies, methodologies and advances in crossbreeding programs worldwide are reviewed. Shortening the juvenile period, early selection and other strategies for the evaluation of valuable agronomical traits are integrated into the framework of alternative protocols that also provide information regarding the variability and heritability of these traits. In addition, the possibilities provided by new genomics tools to shorten the protracted crossbreeding process are also presented. Finally, new developments on in vitro culture and genetic transformation as well as the feasibility of using these tools in breeding programs are discussed.


Olea europaea Clonal selection Cryopreservation Biotechnology Genomics In vitro regeneration Morphological descriptors Molecular markers 



We dedicated this review to the collective effort of all researchers working on olive genetic resources and breeding in different Andalusia institutions since the establishment of the Olive Work Germplasm Bank of Córdoba in 1970, a landmark on olive breeding. We also acknowledge Isabel Trujillo for critical reading of the Section on Genetic Resources and to the graduate students Diego Cabello, Hristofor Miho, Pablo Morello and Pedro Valverde for their photographs and support in preparing the manuscript. Authors also recognize the plant breeding group of IFAPA-Alameda del Obispo, the biotechnology groups at IHSM (UMA-CSIC), Plant Biology Department, Malaga University, and IFAPA-Churriana, for their contributions to part of the research reviewed. Finally, we acknowledge the Spanish funding research agencies for their economic support for more than 40 years. Project P11-AGR-7992 is currently supporting part of the research indicated in Sect. 14.5.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luis Rallo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Diego Barranco
    • 1
  • Concepción M. Díez
    • 1
  • Pilar Rallo
    • 2
  • María Paz Suárez
    • 2
  • Carlos Trapero
    • 1
  • Fernando Pliego-Alfaro
    • 3
  1. 1.Departamento de Agronomía, Edificio Celestino MutisUniversidad de CórdobaCórdobaSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de Ciencias AgroforestalesUniversidad de Sevilla, ETSIASevilleSpain
  3. 3.Departamento de Biología Vegetal, Facultad de CienciasInstituto de Hortofruticultura Subtropical y Mediterránea (IHSM) “La Mayora” (UMA-CSIC)MálagaSpain

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