Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Decoding the complete genome of the Mediterranean's most emblematic tree: The olive

05.07.2016

A team of scientists from three Spanish centers has sequenced, for the first time ever, the complete genome of the olive tree

The olive was one of the first trees to be domesticated in the history of mankind, probably some 6,000 years ago. A Mediterranean emblem par excellence, it is of vital importance to the Spanish and other regional economies (Italy, Greece and Portugal). In fact, Spain is the leading producer of olive oil in the world. Every year, nearly three million tons of oil are produced, for local consumption and export. Spain produces one third of this total.


This image shows a sequenced olive tree (Olea europaea).

Credit: Manuel Sánchez, RJB-CSIC

Nonetheless, up to now, the genome of the olive tree were unknown. The genome regulate such factors as the differences among varieties, sizes and flavor of the olives, why the trees live so long or the reasons for their adaptation to dryland farming.

Now 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).

... more about:
»DNA »Decoding

"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.

Private funding to support public science

The story of this project begins with a presentation, a coincidence and a challenge. Four years ago, Gabaldón worked with Pablo Vargas, a CSIC researcher at the Real Jardín Botánico, on the presentation of scientific results of projects focused on endangered species, such as the Iberian lynx, that had been financed by Banco Santander.

At that time, Banco Santander had expressed great interest in financing scientific projects in Spain. Over the course of the presentation, Pablo Vargas proposed to Emilio Botín the complete sequencing of the olive tree genome, using the same technology as had been used to sequence the lynx; in other words, the most state-of-the-art technological strategy to achieve a high-quality genome.

Five months after that meeting, a contract was signed to carry out the first complete sequencing of the olive tree's DNA, a three-year research effort coordinated by Pablo Vargas.

"There are three phases to genome sequencing: first, isolate all of the genes, which we published two years ago. Second, assemble the genome, which is a matter of ordering those genes one after the other, like linking up loose phrases in a book. Last, identify all of the genes, or binding the book. The latter two phases are what we have done and are now presenting," says the CSIC Real Jardín Botánico researcher.

To continue with the book analogy, according to Tyler Alioto of the CNAG-CRG "this genome has generated some 1.31 billion letters, and over 1,000 GBytes of data. We are surprised because we have detected over 56,000 genes, significantly more than those detected in sequenced genomes of related plants, and twice that of the human genome."

Decoding its evolutionary history

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.

The next step, researchers say, will be to decode the evolutionary history of this tree, which has formed part of old-world civilizations since the Bronze Age. At that time, in the eastern Mediterranean, the process of domesticating wild olive trees that led to today's trees began. Later, selection processes in different Mediterranean countries gave rise to the nearly 1,000 varieties of trees we have today.

Knowing the evolution of olive trees from different countries will make it possible to know their origins and discover the keys that have allowed it to adapt to very diverse environmental conditions. It will also help discover the reasons behind its extraordinary longevity, as the trees can live for 3,000 to 4,000 years.

"That longevity makes the olive tree we have sequenced practically a living monument," says Gabaldón. "Up to now, all of the individuals sequenced, from the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) to the first human being analyzed, have lived for a certain time, depending on their life expectancy, but then died or will die. This is the first time that the DNA of an individual over 1,000 years old, and that will probably live another 1,000 years, has been sequenced." say Gabaldón and Vargas.

Media Contact

Laia Cendros
laia.cendros@crg.eu
34-607-611-798

 @CRGenomica

http://www.crg.es 

Laia Cendros | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: DNA Decoding

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New catalyst controls activation of a carbon-hydrogen bond
21.11.2017 | Emory Health Sciences

nachricht The main switch
21.11.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Previous evidence of water on mars now identified as grainflows

21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope completes final cryogenic testing

21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New catalyst controls activation of a carbon-hydrogen bond

21.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>