Current Status of Biodiversity Assessment and Conservation of Wild Olive (Olea europaea L. subsp. europaea var. sylvestris).Plants (Basel). 2022 Feb 10; 11(4)P
Oleaster (Olea europaea L. subsp. europaea var. sylvestris) is the ancestor of cultivated olive (Olea europaea L. subsp. europaea var. europaea) and it is spread through the whole Mediterranean Basin, showing an overlapping distribution with cultivated olive trees. Climate change and new emerging diseases are expected to severely affect the cultivations of olive in the future. Oleaster presents a higher genetic variability compared to the cultivated olive and some wild trees were found adapted to particularly harsh conditions; therefore, the role of oleaster in the future of olive cultivation may be crucial. Despite the great potential, only recently the need to deeply characterize and adequately preserve the wild olive resources drew the attention of researchers. In this review, we summarized the most important morphological and genetic studies performed on oleaster trees collected in different countries of the Mediterranean Basin. Moreover, we reviewed the strategies introduced so far to preserve and manage the oleaster germplasm collections, giving a future perspective on their role in facing the future agricultural challenges posed by climatic changes and new emerging diseases.