Nutrition metabolism plays an important role in the alternate bearing of the olive tree (Olea europaea L.)

PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e59876. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059876. Epub 2013 Mar 28.


The olive tree (Olea europaea L.) is widely known for its strong tendency for alternate bearing, which severely affects the fruit yield from year to year. Microarray based gene expression analysis using RNA from olive samples (on-off years leaves and ripe-unripe fruits) are particularly useful to understand the molecular mechanisms influencing the periodicity in the olive tree. Thus, we carried out genome wide transcriptome analyses involving different organs and temporal stages of the olive tree using the NimbleGen Array containing 136,628 oligonucleotide probe sets. Cluster analyses of the genes showed that cDNAs originated from different organs could be sorted into separate groups. The nutritional control had a particularly remarkable impact on the alternate bearing of olive, as shown by the differential expression of transcripts under different temporal phases and organs. Additionally, hormonal control and flowering processes also played important roles in this phenomenon. Our analyses provide further insights into the transcript changes between "on year" and "off year" leaves along with the changes from unrpipe to ripe fruits, which shed light on the molecular mechanisms underlying the olive tree alternate bearing. These findings have important implications for the breeding and agriculture of the olive tree and other crops showing periodicity. To our knowledge, this is the first study reporting the development and use of an olive array to document the gene expression profiling associated with the alternate bearing in olive tree.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cluster Analysis
  • Fruit / genetics
  • Fruit / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Genes, Plant
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Olea / genetics*
  • Olea / physiology
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Oligonucleotide Probes
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Transcriptome*


  • Oligonucleotide Probes
  • Oxygen

Grants and funding

TUBITAK with grant no: 1090661 and the MINECO (Spain, project number AGL2010-17316) are gratefully acknowledged. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.