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And now we know the olive oil genes. The perfect bouquet is coming

Let’s rejoice for a primacy of Italy: the decoding of tens of thousands genes, mainly involved in the inolition process and in the creation of olive oil minor components

Live up to the ten researchers that analyzed the olive transcriptome, i.e. the part of the genome which is expressed. It’s our pleasure to cite all of them: Fiammetta Alagna, Nunzio D'Agostino, Laura Torchia, Maurizio Servili, Rosa Rao. Marco Pietrella, Giovanni Giuliano, Maria Luisa Chiusano, Luciana Baldoni e Gaetano Perrotta.

This work, published on the “BMC Genomics” journal, is the result of the cooperation between two Italian research institutions: Enea (Trisaia and Casaccia centers) and Cnr (the Perugia Institute for vegetal genetics).
This innovative research centered its attention specifically to the genes involved in the fruit development. We are still far from a practical or applicative follow up, but the fact that this important basic research derives from an Italian consortium shows the creativity and the competence of the Italian research in these fields.

The researchers analyzed two different varieties of olives: the Coratina and the Tendellone. These different olives show a high or low polyphenols content, respectively. The research team developed four cDNA libraries in two different stages: at the beginning and at the end of the drupe development. In this way they got more than 250.000 assays, identifying 58 million DNA bases, circa.

These numbers are not impressing, considering the effort done during the genome project or in typical clinical studies, but are definitively enough to shed a light on the genes involved in the olive metabolism and development during the phenolic stage. As a matter of fact, among the thousands of genes discovered, tens were involved in the triglycerides and polyphenols production and in the assembly of the aromatic molecules which are the basis of the olive oil bouquet. The genotype, in fact, is internationally recognized as the main factor influencing the qualitative and molecular characteristics of the extra virgin olive oil.

This research, besides improving our knowledge on the organoleptic and medical properties of olive oil, will probably contribute to promote and defend the typical Italian productions and will represent an important step toward the complete decoding of the olive genome.

by T N
05 october 2009, Technical Area > Olive & Oil

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