Date Published:APR 23
Abstract:Global warming is predicted to have a negative effect on plant growth due to the damaging effect of high temperatures. In order to address the effect of high temperature environments on olive oil yield and quality, we compared its effect on the fruit development of five olive cultivars placed in a region noted for its high summer temperatures, with trees of the same cultivars placed in a region of relatively mild summers. We found that the effects of a high temperature environment are genotype dependent and in general, high temperatures during fruit development affected three important traits: fruit weight, oil concentration and oil quality. None of the tested cultivars exhibited complete heat stress tolerance. Final dry fruit weight at harvest of the `Barnea' cultivar was not affected by the high temperature environment, whereas the `Koroneiki', `Coratina', `Souri' and `Picholine' cultivars exhibited decreased dry fruit weight at harvest in response to higher temperatures by 0.2, 1, 0.4 and 0.2 g respectively. The pattern of final oil concentration was also cultivar dependent, `Barnea', `Coratina' and `Picholine' not being affected by the high temperature environment, whereas the `Koroneiki' and `Souri' cultivars showed a decreased dry fruit oil concentration at harvest under the same conditions by 15 and 8% respectively. Regarding the quality of oil produced, the `Souri' cultivar proved more tolerant to a high temperature environment than any other of the cultivars analyzed in this study. These results suggest that different olive cultivars have developed a variety of mechanisms in dealing with high temperatures. Elucidation of the mechanism of each of these responses may open the way to development of a variety of olives broadly adapted to conditions of high temperatures.