CRG: Decoding the complete genome of the Mediterranean’s most emblematic tree: the olive

CRG: Decoding the complete genome of the Mediterranean’s most emblematic tree: the olive

News from CRG

A team of researchers from the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) in Barcelona, the Real Jardin Botánico (CSIC-RJB) and the Centro Nacional de Análisis Genómico (CNAG-CRG), has brought new insight to the genetic puzzle of the olive tree, by sequencing the complete genome of this species for the first time ever. The results of this work, fully funded by Banco Santander, have been published this week in the groundbreaking Open Access and Open Data journal GigaScience. The article will pave the way to new research work that will help olive trees in their development and protecting them from infections now causing major damage, such as the attacks of bacteria (Xilella fastidiosa) and fungi (Verticillium dhailae).

“Without a doubt, it is an emblematic tree, and it is very difficult to improve plant breeding, as you have to wait at least 12 years to see what morphological characteristics it will have, and whether it is advisable to cross-breed,” says principal author of this paper Toni Gabaldón, ICREA research professor and head of the comparative genomics laboratory at the CRG. “Knowing the genetic information of the olive tree will let us contribute to the improvement of oil and olive production, of major relevance to the Spanish economy,” he adds.

In addition to the complete sequencing of the olive tree genome, researchers have also compared the DNA of this thousand-year-old tree with other varieties such as the wild olive. They have also found the transcriptome, the genes expressed to determine what differences exist on the genetic expression level in leaves, roots and fruits at different stages of ripening.

More information:
CRG Website

Reference work:
Fernando Cruz, Irene Julca, Jèssica Gómez-Garrido, Damian Loska, Marina Marcet-Houben, Emilio Cano, Beatriz Galán, Leonor Frias, Paolo Ribeca, Marta Gut, Manuel Sánchez-Fernández, Jose Luis García, Ivo G. Gut, Pablo Vargas, Tyler S. Alioto, and Toni Gabaldón. “Genome sequence of the olive tree, Olea europaea” GigaScience 2016