Eight microsatellite primers were used to distinguish 23 olive cultivars that were parents, or potential parents, in a Spanish breeding program. Four of these microsatellites were particularly informative and were used to check the paternity of 11 olive progenies thought to come from selfings or controlled crosses involving nonemasculated flowers. Seven progenies were found to be highly contaminated, i.e. many seedlings had unexpected alleles, and only four were found to be pure or almost pure. Almost all the contamination detected came from outcrossing, indicating that placing the pollination bags well before anthesis is important and that emasculation to avoid selfing is unnecessary. More than two nonparental alleles per primer were found in each contaminated progeny, showing that more than one cultivar caused contamination. However, the allele data are consistent with `Picual' (the main commercial cultivar growing in the area where the crosses were made) being the contaminant in 48% of the nontrue seedlings (excluding `Picual' self progenies). Some other cultivars planted near the female trees were also found to be sources of contamination. The results obtained show that microsatellite analysis is a convenient technique to assess routinely the crosses made in breeding programs and to check self-incompatibility in olive. The pure progenies identified will be useful for reliable inheritance studies in olive, which have rarely been reported in the literature.
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