Olive & Oil 05/11/2012

DNA analysis and an innovative labeling process. The future of Italian olive oil is here

Scientific research makes steady progress and, through these, you can also propose new models of traceability, useful to provide assurances to consumers on the origin and composition information

The method of DNA analysis has now gone far beyond pure scientific experience, reaching a new labeling system that takes advantage of scientific advances achieved through a project funded by Italian Agricultural Minister held from 2009 to mid-2012, and coordinated by Marilena Ceccarelli Department of Cell Biology and Environmental University of Perugia, attended the Institute of Plant Genetics, CNR, Perugia (Luciana Baldoni), some Italian olive farms and agency services EcoTech Ltd

The exact title of the project "System of genetic traceability of olive varieties in the oil for a new way of labeling."

The goal of the project, in fact, was to develop a certification system for molecular varieties used in the preparation of the oils, as shown on the label.

On the website of the Department of Cellular and Environmental Biology (http://accounts.unipg.it/ ~ dipbca / index.html) are some brief information about the project as well as the results obtained by analyzing the oil produced by the farm “Cignale” by Penne, one of the companies participating in the project.

What has been done? We have developed molecular markers for identification of olive cultivars used in the preparation of the oil. Some olive companies have offered their products to test the protocol developed in the laboratory.

Of course we have taken account of the special characteristics of the DNA found in the oil is a generally degraded DNA, found in trace amounts and pool consists of different genotypes of unknown identity.

In this regard has been developed a method of extraction which allows to recover greater amounts of DNA than those achievable by the use of commercial kits.

We identified new molecular markers chloroplast, considered the ideal tool for tracking molecular oils, thanks to being of maternal origin (avoid oil contamination of potential pollinators), haploid (unique profile for each variety) and highly represented in the oil. In addition to these new markers have also been developed SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms), which, compared to classic SSR (Simple Sequence Repeats) used for the characterization varietal, offer the advantage of being extremely numerous, easily usable in multiple arrays high processivity and applicable in short fragments of degraded DNA. These new markers were classified according to an alphanumeric code, for which each olive variety is identified by an assemblage of letters and numbers.

The transfer of molecular information on the label thus obtained was prepared by EcoTech. The labeling system is based on the QR code on the collar applied to the bottle, framed with smartphones, allowing you to connect to the companies' web site, where you can find all the information about the product.

The initiative has value prototype but may in the future be applied to any type of oil that wishes to make use of this technology.

It seems to us, this is a small step forward in the 'obstacle' of food traceability, a result that can help give confidence to consumers, constantly looking for assurances and information about the origin and composition of the food.

Finally, we would like to mention our close collaborators who have made a valuable contribution to the development of the project: Vania Sarri, Nicolò Cultrera and Roberto Mariotti and, as consultant, Prof. Pier Giorgio Cionini, which has closely followed the various phases of this work.

di Marilena Ceccarelli, Luciana Baldoni