In a bid to foster a more sustainable and competitive olive-oil sector, the EU-funded BeFOre project is developing a molecular database of the most resilient olive varieties that have the highest agronomical potential.
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Over 1 200 varieties of olive are currently cultivated globally. For those interested in the molecular and agronomical aspects of the olive, this which makes it difficult to find agreed data.
As agricultural production faces new demands, variants of olive with a high resilience to climate change or relevance for functional foods are of particular interest to the olive-growing sector.
The EU-funded BeFOre project aims is establishing a network of researchers active in olive conservation, evaluation and exploitation in a bid to develop molecular and phenotype databases of olive varieties. The screening of olive variants for specific, potentially valuable traits will create a genetic repository of olive strains classified according to their particular advantages.
The researchers will also select effective DNA markers and identify the genomes which affect agronomical performance, compiling them in a molecular database. A phenotypic database which will include those strains with potentially agronomically interesting phenotypes, such as disease tolerance, abiotic stress tolerance, new flavours, etc., will then be created.
The project results will be disseminated to all levels of the olive production chain, with particular attention paid to respecting international intellectual property rights for the use and exchange of olive genetic resources.
BeFOre expects its evaluation, assessment and compilation of high-performing varieties of olives with valuable traits to revitalise the olive sector and lead to an increase in productivity, sustainability and competitiveness.