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Traceability of origin and authenticity of olive oil
by combined genomic and metabolomic approaches

Contract number : QLK1-2002-02386
Contract type : Shared Cost Project
Total cost : Under negotiation
EC contribution : Under negotiation
Starting date : not yet determined
Duration : 36 Months
Scientific Officer : Barend Verachtert
Project website : not yet available
Prof. Dr Nelson Marmiroli
Università degli Studi di Parma
Dipartimento di Scienze Ambientali
Sezione Genetica e Biotecnologie Ambientali
Parco Area delle Scienze 11/A
43100 Parma
Tel.: +39-052-1905606
Fax: +39-052-1905665
E-mail: nelson.marmiroli @

The project concerns the traceability of origin and authenticity of olive oil by genomic and metabolomic approaches. Starting from commercially available cultivars, databases will be constructed including all relevant information for science, commerce, marketing and processing in the EU. After an initial feasibility study on DNA extraction from olive oil, the project applies established DNA analytical methods based on PCR and metabolic profiling to develop molecular markers for application in advanced high-throughput platforms. Mass spectrometry, LightCycler and microarrays, will allow for a precise discrimination and quantification of different cultivar composition in olive oil of different origin and technological processing. Methods will be validated for their application to forensic tests on olive oils, enabling to understand their composition, also in quantitative terms, and the presence of frauds. Results will be disseminated to a network of stakeholders.

  • To establish through a feasibility study the applicability of available DNA extraction/purification methods to olive oils collected at different stages of the production chain (crude and refined), and to evaluate whether the DNA collected is quantitatively (amount) and qualitatively (length or size of the fragments) applicable for a genomic analysis through quantitative PCR, molecular markers analysis, microarray analysis. This will be done on few cultivars chosen randomly among those included in this project.
  • To collect information regarding olive cultivation and olive oil production, commerce, marketing and processing in the European Union.
  • To collect information and to assess the use of molecular markers for variety identification and discrimination in order to define a set of markers that can be used together (multiplexed) in the commonly used high throughput genotyping platforms.
  • To obtain and deliver the information available on the genetic makeup and distribution of alleles across cultivars in European regions to help in designing a set of molecular markers that can be used throughout the project for olive oil analysis.
  • To assess the presence of DNA fragments by qualitative and quantitative methods in oil samples obtained from commercial lines or from oils reconstructed in laboratory, starting from pure genetic stocks including some low quality cultivars that are utilised for commercial frauds.
  • To compare the data set obtained with genomic information and metabolic profiling to assess and quantify cultivar composition of oil in a diagnostic test that will be made available as tool kit for SME food companies, Quality Assessing Institutes and Consumers Associations.
  • To establish the procedure for obtaining a "molecular identity card"(M-ID) for each olive oil, based on genomic and metabolomic data, in order to prepare a label for the products which can be visible and readable by consumers (bar code).
  • To develop a network of all the interested parties including growers, companies and consumers to discuss the relevance of molecular methodologies in traceability across the food chain and in particular across the production of olive oil.
(expected) Results and achievements
  • Methods for extracting DNA from olive oils in quantity and size compatible with their application to genomic analysis
  • A database of the olive cultivars grown in the EU and utilised for the olive oil production
  • A database of genetic information and allele distribution in cultivars and across populations
  • Diagnostic molecular markers for olive
  • Methods for metabolites analysis and quantification in olive oils preparations (metabolic profiling)
  • A strategy for processing metabolic profiling data obtained from olive oils of different origin, either of single or mixed cultivars
  • Methods for quantification of cultivar composition in olive oil by LightCycler technology, DNA and PNA microarray technology
  • A number of toolkits and methodologies to be used in forensic testing including fraud detection
  • A "molecular identity card"(M-ID) for labelling oils
  • A network of information and communication involving all participants and stakeholders


Huntingdon Road
CB3 0LE Cambridge
United Kingdom
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche
Istituto di Tecnologie Biomediche
Via Fratelli Cervi 93
20090 Segrate (Milano)
Plantechno Srl
Via Staffolo 60
26040 Vicomoscano (Cremona)
Instituto de Agricultura Sostenible
Finca Alameda del Obispo S/N
14080 Córdoba
University of Azores
Department of Agricultural Sciences
9701-851 Angra do Heroismo
University of Tras-os-Montes e Alto Douro
Department of Genetic and Biotechnology
Apdo 202
5000-911 Vila Real
Phylogene SA
Espace Innovation 2
Parc Georges Besse
110 Allée Charles Babbage
30035 Nîmes cedex
Association Française Interprofessionelle de l'Olive
Maison des Agriculteurs
22 Avenue Henri-Pontier
13626 Aix-en-Provence cedex 1

Associazione Consumatori Utenti Onlus
Via Bazzini 4
20131 Milano
Consorzio Nazionale degli Olivicoltori
Via Piave 8
00187 Roma
Universiteit Gent
Department of Organic Chemistry
Coupure Links 653
9000 Gent
Laboratoire "Amélioration des Plantes"
2 Place Pierre Viala
34060 Montpellier
Université de Corse
Laboratoire de Biochimie
Avenue Jean Nicoli
20250 Corte

Fifth Framework Programme

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