The richness of the cultivated olive germplasm is an extraordinary case among horticultural crops, due to the trees longevity and the lack of the turnover with new breeding genotypes. Algeria is a part of the Mediterranean basin, where commercial diffusion of crop products including olives and olive oil are developed. Olive tree covers more than 40,553 ha, with the country consisting of a relatively long and narrow coast as well as elevated agricultural plateau; this topographical variation creates some contrasted climatic conditions from the coast to inland. The correct identification of olive genetic resources is not only indispensable for biodiversity conservation and sustainable agriculture, but also serves research and scientific purposes, and potentially provide traits that can help meet future challenges, such as the need to adapt crops to changing climatic conditions or outbreaks of disease. In the present study, seven major olive cultivars: Aghchren of titest, Aguenaou, Blanquette of guelma, Chemlal, Limli, Rougette of Mitidja and Sigoise were investigated and characterized by combining morphological and molecular markers as well as some chemical parameters of their oil. Five microsatellites were used for genetic characterization and their discrimination power was evaluated. Additionally, more morphological characterization on leaves, drupes and pits were investigated for chemical parameters. This research analysis focused on the quality characteristics which are defined by the trade standard of International Olive Council to determine the content of fatty acids and total phenolic compounds. From the researcher’s point of view, this is the first multidisciplinary approach to characterize the most cultivated olive in Algeria. Assessment and characterization should allow obtaining valuable knowledge for better management of Algerian olive orchards and be a source of wealth for plant breeding programs.
Keywords: Olea europaea L., olive cultivars, morphological characterization, olive oil, microsatellites, high-performance liquid chromatography.