The morphological fidelity of the olive plants propagated through axillary buds, microplants and somatic embryogenesis, somatic plants was evaluated. Thirty-two morphological traits were used to characterize the tissue culture propagated olive plants. The microplants showed very high phenotypic similarity compared to plants produced by conventional cutting propagation method. The somatic plants exhibited variant morphological stable phenotypes, among somaclonal population two variant phenotypes were studied: BOS (bush-olive somaclone) and COS (columnar-olive somaclone). A wide range of plant traits were differently involved in somaclonal variation as plant height, canopy dimensions, leaf, inflorescence and fruit dimensions in respect to the putative control plants. The present study has established that the morphological stability of tissue culture-derived olive plants is strictly related with the in vitro propagation method used.
Key words: Tissue culture, phenotypic stability, somaclonal variation, Olea europaea.
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