Researchers Seek Better Understanding of Olive Drupe Development

Newly published research in Greece is paving the way to a deeper understanding of olive drupe ripening.

Scientists at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki investigated how the molecular and physiological profiles of olive drupes change as they go through the ripening process.

The researchers hope that a better understanding of ripening will help farmers make the best decisions for planting table olive and olive oil-producing varieties. The scientists explained that one of the project’s main goals is to help develop the Greek countryside while promoting the interests of producers and consumers.

“At the same time, emphasis is placed on plant protection and the fight against important enemies of the olive tree,” Evangelos Karagiannis, who led the research team, told Olive Oil Times.

The researchers emphasized that olive development is a complex biological process that affects the human diet, and their study aimed to understand the molecular basis of olive quality better.

“This means that by deploying high-throughput analyses, such as liquid chromatography or gas chromatography-mass spectrometry techniques and others, we obtain novel proteomic [the large-scale study of proteins] and metabolomic data,” Karagiannis said.

“This provides new knowledge about the molecular and physiological profile of the olive during drupe development,” he added. “This knowledge paves the way for further research, for example with breeding programs, and provides new insights into the final quality features of the fruits.”

According to the researchers, multilevel studies integrating olive transcriptomics (the study of an organism’s RNA), proteomics and metabolomics are still lacking.

“Such an analytical approach will provide an enormous amount of data that expands our knowledge in the olive development and maturation process,” the researchers wrote.

The first metabolomic investigation conducted by the Greek researchers focused on the Chondrolia Chalkidikis cultivar.

“This cultivar is characterized by its big and green olives that are harvested by hand,” Karagiannis said. “It was selected because it is widespread in northern Greece. Its drupes were mainly picked during the green-mature stage right before they turned purple.”

Those fruits were then examined in six subsequent stages of ripening. The amount of primary and secondary metabolites and proteins were identified, and how they changed throughout the ripening process was also observed. More