As a result of this work, we were able to characterize seven indigenous to Greece Salvia officinalis populations using genetic and metabolomic tools. These tools can be used to select the most promising genotypes, capable to design future breeding programs for high valuable varieties. An initial investigation was carried out to compare the genetic and metabolic diversity in S. officinalis grown in Greece and to discern the relationship between the two sets of data. Analysis of inter-simple sequence repeats (ISSR) revealed significant genetic differences among seven sage populations, which were grouped into three main clusters according to an UPGMA ISSR data-based dendrogram and Principle Coordinate Analysis. 80 loci were scored of which up to 90% were polymorphic at species level. According to the composition of their essential oil, the populations were classified into two chemotypes: 1.8 cineole/α-thujone and α-thujone/1.8 cineole. Additionally, a targeted ultra performance liquid chromatography (UPLC-MS/MS) method was used to qualify and quantify phenolic compounds in methanolic extracts of the seven sage genotypes according to which they were districted in six clusters among the sage populations. The main compounds characterizing the seven genotypes were rosmarinic acid and carnosol, followed by apigenin-7-O-glucoside (Ap7glc), and luteolin-7-O-glucoside (Lu7glc). The correlation between matrices obtained from ISSR data and metabolic profiles was non-significant. However, based on the differences in metabolic fingerprint, we aimed to define populations using as main selection criteria the high polyphenol content and desired essential oil composition, using state to the art analytical tools for the identification of parent lines for breeding programs.
Keywords: Chemotaxonomy; Essential oils; Genetic diversity; Inter-simple sequence repeats (ISSRs); Phenolics; Sage.