Microsatellite marker-based identification of mother plants for the reliable propagation of olive (Olea europaea L.) cultivars in Australia.
Olive production in Australia has continued to increase in recent years, however there remains a high degree of confusion on the genetic identities of the cultivars being grown. In the present study, seven microsatellite (simple sequence repeat; SSR) loci were used to identify a set of 53 olive tree samples from different sources. The microsatellite DNA profiles of all 53 tree samples, including seven unknown trees, were compared with the SSR profiles of 14 reference olive cultivars. A total of 60 fragments (alleles), averaging 8.57 alleles per microsatellite locus, were amplified. High average values were found for the observed heterozygosity, the expected heterozygosity, and the polymorphic information content (0.73, 0.74, and 0.72, respectively). While all seven microsatellite markers proved useful for characterisation and identification purposes, a combination of three SSR primer pairs (DCA9, DCA18, and EM030) was sufficient to distinguish all 53 olive samples. The microsatellite allelic profiles allowed the 53 tree samples to be grouped into 23 genotypes. The allelic profiles of 14 of these genotypes matched with their reference cultivars, while the genetic identities of the remaining nine genotypes could not be confirmed. Some of these unknown genotypes may have been derived from feral olive trees, or were due to mislabelling and/or planting errors among Australian olive cultivars. Our results confirm the usefulness of microsatellite markers as a tool for cultivar differentiation and identification, and indicate the need for reliable identification of mother plants for commercial propagation.