`Olive Tree Transcriptome Mapping Key to Industry Efficiency

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Olive Tree Transcriptome Mapping Key to Industry Efficiency

Mar. 7, 2013
Naomi Tupper

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Researchers from the Uni­ver­sity of Jaén have col­lab­o­rated with a multi-dis­ci­pli­nary group to map the tran­scrip­tome (the set of all RNA mol­e­cules pro­duced in a pop­u­la­tion of cells) of the olive tree, a step that is hoped to improve effi­ciency and reduce cost of olive pro­duc­tion and pro­cess­ing.

Tra­di­tional olive breed­ing pro­grams focus on desir­able traits such as a short juve­nile period and oil char­ac­ter­is­tics, such as fatty acid com­po­si­tion and phe­no­lic com­pounds that are in demand in the mar­ket­place. The struc­tural form of the tree is also an impor­tant con­sid­er­a­tion, with those suited to mechan­i­cal har­vest­ing the most sought after. By under­stand­ing the mol­e­c­u­lar basis of these char­ac­ter­is­tics, the process can be opti­mized more eas­ily than with tra­di­tional meth­ods. How­ever, infor­ma­tion regard­ing the genetic make-up of the olive is still not read­ily avail­able, despite the advan­tages that such infor­ma­tion con­fers to the indus­try, hence the new map­ping has the poten­tial to facil­i­tate growth and devel­op­ment of the olive sec­tor.

The study, which was pub­lished in the jour­nal DNA Research, focuses on map­ping and record­ing the tran­scrip­tome of the olive tree, Olea europaea L, which is one of the most wide­spread fruit trees in the Mediter­ranean basin and vital to the econ­omy of the region. The tran­scrip­tome is the part of the genome which con­tains the largest num­ber of genes, and so pro­vides the great­est amount of encoded infor­ma­tion in the total DNA of the plant. The recent study has specif­i­cally focused on the 80 per­cent of olive genes that are related to areas that are of use to breed­ers, such as fruit ripen­ing, growth and when the tree starts to pro­duce fruit.

Olive tis­sue at var­i­ous stages, includ­ing fruit, roots, leaves and seeds are ana­lyzed at dif­fer­ing times of devel­op­ment to pro­vide infor­ma­tion about gene func­tion at these dif­fer­ent phases of devel­op­ment. Genes that are used by cells in the dif­fer­ent tis­sues at var­i­ous times are ana­lyzed to lead to the opti­miza­tion of the process of the devel­op­ment of the tree and fruit. Dif­fer­ent vari­eties such as Picual, Arbe­quina and Lechin of Sevilla have been included in the analy­ses.

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It is hoped that the study will pro­vide valu­able infor­ma­tion to olive grow­ers and breed­ers and allow projects to be devel­oped to obtain new and improved vari­eties at a low cost and with greater effi­ciency than exit­ing meth­ods. It may also serve as a prob­lem-solv­ing device, allow­ing the bet­ter solu­tions to spe­cific breed­ing prob­lems.

The new study is part of the Oleaga project, which began in 2008 with the pur­pose of gen­er­at­ing a genetic map of the olive. The infor­ma­tion obtained from the project is hoped to ensure more pro­duc­tive and prof­itable farm­ing, as well has the pro­duc­tion of higher qual­ity oils that con­fer greater health ben­e­fits.



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