Food Analytical Methods

, Volume 12, Issue 11, pp 2509–2517 | Cite as

Identification of Suitable Locus for Specific Detection of Biological Adulterants of Saffron

  • Sangita BansalEmail author
  • Sujata Thakur
  • Manisha Mangal
  • Anupam K. Mangal
  • R. K. Gupta


Saffron being one of the highest priced commodities and having high market potential is often adulterated with other biological adulterants which have resemblance to saffron and are often difficult to detect by conventional methods. To devise an efficient method for biological adulterant (safflower/Calendula) detection in saffron, three different cytoplasmic and nuclear DNA barcodes namely ITS2, rbcLa, and psbA-trnH and already developed species/adulterant-specific PCR-based SCAR markers namely SAFL-4, SAFL-40, ScCt131, ScCO390, and ScCs263 were tested in the present study. Adulteration of safflower (0.5%) and Calendula (3%) could be detected in saffron: safflower/Calendula admixtures with the primer pairs SAFL-40 and ScCo390, respectively. In multiplex PCR with SCAR markers for simultaneous detection of safflower and saffron, detection of up to 7% safflower adulteration was possible in admixtures. Among the three barcoding loci, the barcode psbA-trnH allowed the detection of safflower and Calendula adulteration in saffron by producing different size amplicons, whereas barcode ITS2 produced amplicons of similar sizes and rbcLa did not give reproducible results.


Saffron Adulteration Authentication DNA barcode SCAR Detection method 



Arbitrarily primed-polymerase chain reaction


Basic local alignment search tool


CetylTrimethyl ammonium bromide-sodium dodecyl sulfate


Deoxyribonucleic acid


Deoxynucleotide triphosphates


Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid


Hydrochloric acid


Insertions or deletions


Internal transcribed spacer


Megakaryocyte-associated tyrosine kinase


Multiple sequence comparison by log-expectation


National center for biotechnology information




Polymerase chain reaction


Photosystem II protein D1


Random amplified polymorphic DNA


Ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase large subunit


Sequence characterized amplified regions


Tris base, acetic acid, and EDTA






Unweighted pair group method with arithmetic mean





The authors are thankful to National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB), New Delhi (India), for providing financial assistance and necessary facilities for the present paper (Project code PB01/2013–14).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Sangita Bansal declares that she has no conflict of interest. Sujata Thakur declares that she has no conflict of interest. Manisha Mangal declares that she has no conflict of interest. Anupam K. Mangal declares that she has no conflict of interest. R. K. Gupta declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

Not applicable.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sangita Bansal
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sujata Thakur
    • 2
  • Manisha Mangal
    • 3
  • Anupam K. Mangal
    • 4
  • R. K. Gupta
    • 2
  1. 1.TCCUICAR-National Bureau of Plant Genetic ResourcesNew DelhiIndia
  2. 2.ICAR—Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engineering & TechnologyLudhianaIndia
  3. 3.ICAR—Indian Agriculture Research InstituteNew DelhiIndia
  4. 4.Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS)New DelhiIndia

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