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DNA-Based Olive Variety Identification Service

Foundation Plant Services now offers DNA-based olive variety identification on a fee-for-service basis. The service makes 'DNA Fingerprinting' technology available to nursery managers, growers, olive oil producers and other industry representatives. Varieties are identified by comparing the DNA profile of the client's sample to Foundation Plant Services' Olive DNA Identification Reference Database. The database contains DNA profiles of the important varieties grown in California and around the world. Both domestic clients and clients from outside the U.S. may submit samples for analysis.

Results are typically ready in three to four weeks.

DNA Identification of Olive Varieties (Service 1)

The service determines or confirms the varietal identity of a particular tree. A sample from the tree in question is typed with a panel of DNA markers. The resulting DNA profile (the DNA Fingerprint) is compared with Foundation Plant Services' Olive DNA Identification Reference Database. Dried leaves are the standard sample, but other tissues can also be fingerprinted. Sample collection materials and instructions are provided as part of the service.

Price: 1-5 samples $345 per sample
6 or more samples $265 per sample
(There is a $50 per sample surcharge for all sample types other than leaves dried using our standard protocol.)
Service 2 is not available for olive.

Submitting Dried Olive Leaf Samples for DNA Analysis

Contact Jerry Dangl at the FPS Plant Identification Lab: Direct phone line: 530-752-7540 or E-mail:

Please provide contact information, some background regarding the issue you'd like resolved and the number of samples to be tested. For standard leaf samples, a kit containing collection materials and instructions will be sent to you as part of the service. You will receive: blotting paper, plastic bags, silica gel packs, orange desiccant beads and envelopes. Samples other than standard dried leaves require special handling; call to make arrangements. Keep the silica gel and the orange beads sealed until use or they will absorb moisture from the air and become less effective (the orange beads will turn pale).

  1. Collect small young leaves from near the shoot tips. The younger the better. Collect enough leaves to cover the blotting paper without overlapping the leaves. Avoid collecting during a hot spell.
  2. Place the leaves in an envelope between the two sheets of blotting paper. Keep the leaves flat. Do not overlap the leaves.
  3. Place one silica gel packet in the envelope between the blotting paper and the inside surface of the envelope, not with the leaves between the sheets of blotting paper.
  4. Seal the envelope and write the name of the sample on the envelope in pen. Be sure you identify the tree unambiguously. Use the same sample name on Attachment A of the Testing Agreement. Each envelope must contain leaves from only one tree.
  5. Put the sample envelopes into a plastic bag. Up to 10 sample envelopes can be placed into 1 bag.
  6. Put about 50 grams (4 large tablespoons) of orange desiccant beads into the bag with the envelopes and seal the bag. Put this plastic bag into a second bag and add orange desiccant into the outer bag and seal. Keep the bags sealed. If the orange desiccant turns pale, it has absorbed moisture and must be replaced.
  7. Complete the DNA-ID Request Form. Use the same sample names on the DNA-ID Request Form as on the sample envelopes. Submit the DNA-ID Request Form by email, or mail it with the samples. When we receive the samples, we will complete the entire Agreement Form and send it to you for signature.

Mail samples to: (via US Postal Service)
Foundation Plant Services
Attn: Jerry Dangl
University of California
One Shields Ave.
Davis, CA 95616
(via UPS, FedEx or other courier)
Foundation Plant Services
Attn: Jerry Dangl
455 Hopkins Road
Davis, CA 95616