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Employing barcoding markers to authenticate selected endangered medicinal plants traded in Indian markets

Abstract

The high demand of medicinal plants and their unrestricted collection have rendered many of these as rare or endangered. The restrictions imposed on their collection and trade are difficult to implement because of the inability to identify them in fragmented form. The rarity of these plants in nature and lack of their cultivation raise doubt about the authenticity of the herbals sold in markets. Therefore, in the present investigation, ITS/ITS2, matK, rbcL and rpoC1 sequences of fourteen species of important medicinal plants, some of which are endangered, were generated and checked for their species-specificity (sequences having maximum similarity only with their own) by BLAST1 and/or BOLD identifications. ITS sequences of 12 species were species-specific. However, ITS2 of only 10 of these 12 species were species-specific. As for the chloroplast loci, rbcL and rpoC1 sequences of all 14 species could be obtained, while matK sequences of only 10 of these could be generated. Of the retrieved sequences, rbcL, rpoC1 and matK sequences of 7, 11 and 7 species, respectively, were species-specific. The sequences of the targeted loci from the herbal samples of these species were difficult to retrieve because of failure in the amplification or sequencing. Nevertheless, based on ITS2 and/or one or more of the chloroplast loci targeted, the botanical identities of 22 herbal market samples were checked by phylogenetic tree, BLAST1 and BOLD identification methods. Of these 22 samples, only one of each of Rauvolfia serpentina and Picrorhiza kurroa were found to be authentic.

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Acknowledgements

The research work was financially supported by the grants provided to SBB by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi and DST-Purse and Research and Development Grants, University of Delhi. The awards of Junior and Senior Research Fellowships to SM and AP by ICMR and University Grants Commission (UGC), New Delhi, respectively, are gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Shashi B. Babbar.

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Malik, S., Priya, A. & Babbar, S.B. Employing barcoding markers to authenticate selected endangered medicinal plants traded in Indian markets. Physiol Mol Biol Plants 25, 327–337 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12298-018-0610-8

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Keywords

  • DNA barcoding
  • Herbals
  • ITS
  • matK
  • Medicinal plants