Journal article Open Access

Paternity tests support a diallelic self-incompatibility system in a wild olive (Olea europaea subsp. laperrinei, Oleaceae)

Guillaume Besnard; Pierre-Olivier Cheptou; Malik Debbaoui; Pierre Lafont; Bernard Hugueny; Julia Dupin; Djamel Baali-Cherif

Self-incompatibility (SI) is the main mechanism that favors outcrossing in plants. By limiting compatible matings, SI interferes in fruit production and breeding of new cultivars. In the Oleeae tribe (Oleaceae), an unusual diallelic SI system (DSI) has been proposed for three distantly related species including the olive (Olea europaea), but empirical evidence has remained controversial for this latter. The olive domestication is a complex process with multiple origins. As a consequence, the mixing of S-alleles from two distinct taxa, the possible artificial selection of self-compatible mutants and the large phenological variation of blooming may constitute obstacles for deciphering SI in olive. Here, we investigate cross-genotype compatibilities in the Saharan wild olive (O. e. subsp. laperrinei). As this taxon was geographically isolated for thousands of years, SI should not be affected by human selection. A population of 37 mature individuals maintained in a collection was investigated. Several embryos per mother were genotyped with microsatellites in order to identify compatible fathers that contributed to fertilization. While the pollination was limited by distance inside the collection, our results strongly support the DSI hypothesis, and all individuals were assigned to two incompatibility groups (G1 and G2). No self-fertilization was observed in our conditions. In contrast, crosses between full or half siblings were frequent (ca. 45%), which is likely due to a nonrandom assortment of related trees in the collection. Finally, implications of our results for orchard management and the conservation of olive genetic resources are discussed.

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