Assessment of olive diversity for metabolites associated with the nutritional and sensory quality of virgin olive oil

A. Belaj, L. León, A.G. Pérez, R. De la Rosa, C. Sanz
There is an increasing need for diversification of olive (Olea europaea L.) cultivars, mainly because of the new intensive industry and the current trend of establishing olive productions in new areas outside the Mediterranean basin. Olive breeding has traditionally been focused on the improvement of agronomic traits. However, the nutritional quality of virgin olive oil (VOO) is lately being considered as a breeding target because of the growing weight of scientific evidence supporting the positive impact of VOO on human health. Increasing VOO consumption, through improvement of its nutritional and sensory properties, will in turn have a positive effect on both consumer health and olive-producing areas. VOO metabolites responsible for its nutritional and sensory quality include components such as phenolics and volatile compounds, which are synthesized during the oil extraction process by endogenous enzymes. Here, we aimed to investigate olive diversity regarding the key VOO quality metabolites of olive accessions cultivated around the world. For this purpose, oils from 97 olive cultivars representative of the diversity found at the World Olive Germplasm Collection (CAP-UCO-IFAPA), located at IFAPA Centre “Alameda del Obispo” Cordoba, Spain, were obtained and the phenolic and volatile fractions were further analyzed. The component profiles were compared with those of a similar subset of seedlings arisen from the cross of two widely cultivated olive cultivars having contrasting oil compositions ('Arbequina' and 'Picual'). Results showed that a single cross provides enough variability to produce new olive cultivars with improved quality. The set of cultivars from the collection displayed, in general, higher levels of variability than the progeny cross for the main groups of volatile compounds. However, the latter displayed a wider variability than the set of cultivars under study for most of the main classes of phenolic compounds in the oil, except the lignans.
Belaj, A., León, L., Pérez, A.G., De la Rosa, R. and Sanz, C. (2018). Assessment of olive diversity for metabolites associated with the nutritional and sensory quality of virgin olive oil. Acta Hortic. 1199, 517-522
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2018.1199.82
Olea europaea L., virgin olive oil, phenolics, volatile compounds

Acta Horticulturae