Portuguese Olive Oil Omics for traceability and authenticity

Cofinanciado por:
Acronym | Por3O
Project title | Portuguese Olive Oil Omics for traceability and authenticity
Project Code | PTDC/AGR-PRO/2003/2014
Main objective |

Region of intervention |

Beneficiary entity |
  • Universidade de Évora(líder)
  • INIAV - Instituto Nacional de Investigação Agrária e Veterinária(parceiro)
  • NOVA.ID.FCT - Associação para a Inovação e Desenvolvimento da FCT(parceiro)
  • Universidade Nova de Lisboa(parceiro)

Approval date | 11-08-2015
Start date | 01-11-2016
Date of the conclusion | 31-10-2019

Total eligible cost |
European Union financial support |
National/regional public financial support |


Extra virgin olive oil is a high quality product and economically important for Portugal. According to official data, the Alentejo region is the main producing region being responsible for 71.6% of the national production in 2014. In recent years it has been observed a tremendous growth of the olive grove area and the consequent introduction of cultivars considered less traditional and typical of the region. The Geographical Indication of Origin (IGP) and the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) refers to oils originating from a defined geographical area with particular soil and climate and are also made with olives of certain varieties of olive trees. The first definition is broader than the latter. It is mandatory to have tools that allow the control of at least two variables: the varietie(s) of olive(s) giving rise to the oil and its (their) geographical origin. The implementation of analytical tools that allow to discriminate in olive oils, the olive varieties from which the olive oils were produced, will also allow to certify another important nomination: "Elementary or varietal olive oils", which are obtained from a single variety of olives. The growing interest in organic products, such as olive oil from organic production, also requires the development of analytical methodologies to certify this product. Moreover, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), considered as the top oil class, may be subjected to economic fraud. The most common comprises the addition of lower commercial value oils such as lower quality oils (refined oil or other vegetable oils.

The authenticity of extra virgin olive oils, considering geographic and varietal aspect, is the main goal of this proposal and is based on a genomic and metabolomic aproaches. As a secondary goal of this proposal, it will also be evaluated the genuineness of the product (in a context of adulteration), to yield a useful tool for screening for fraud and for the olive oil certification.

The genomic approach is based on the olive oil DNA evaluation, as well as the definition of molecular markers for each studied variety. The metabolomic approach will comprise "profiling" and "fingerprinting", focusing on the study of the volatile composition of oils using comprehensive multidimensional gas chromatography (GC × GC), the study of mineral elements using ICPMS techniques, the study of stable isotopes (SIRMS) and the use of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and infrared spectroscopy to provide a spectral signature of the different oils under study.

Objectives, activities and expected/achieved results

The main goal of this proposal

It is important, both at national and regional level, the development of markers that allow performing analysis of OO in order to highlighting issues such as quality certification, authentication, geographical and varietal traceability. EVOO traceability is gaining importance due to highquality OO demands, including olive oils with PDO labels or monovarietal ones with specific characteristic related to the olive variety. There are two essential aspects on EVOO traceability: botanical and geographical ones, that are the core of this proposal. The following objectives can be drawn: 1) development of tools to assess botanical origin of OO; 2) development of tools to assess geographic origin of OO. These tools will allow us to address authentication and certification issues, ensuring that a certain OO is 1) an IGP; 2) a POD; 3) a monovarietal; 4) an organic one; 5) authentic OO (not adulterated with other vegetable oil).