Crocus sativus L. genomics and different DNA barcode applications
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Crocussativus L. is a sterile species (3n) whose origin has not been yet clarified. A lot of morphological studies supported the theory that it would have been originated from the evolution, or the hybridization, of other Crocus exemplars, especially C. thomasii, C. hadriaticus and C. cartwrightianus. Crocus sativus stigmas are saffron raw source but, because of their high economic value, sometimes this spice is adulterated. By the application of the DNA barcode technique, we analyzed different Crocus species genomes and we partially clarified some aspects of the phylogeny of this genus: in particular, C. sativus possible genetic derivation was elucidated. Our results also showed that different C. sativus species might have evolved by independent events, probably due to several geographical pressures. We demonstrated that barcoding method, usually adopted for interspecific taxonomic identification, could be also applied to intraspecific and population studies. Finally, we proposed this molecular approach as scientific tool able to discriminate and certificate saffron authenticity.