Molecular Identification of Traditional Medicinal Materials

  • Ming Li
  • Chao Jiang
  • Paul Pui-Hay
  • Pang-Chui ShawEmail author
  • Yuan YuanEmail author


Traditional medicines are consumed by 80% of the population in the world for health maintenance and disease treatment. The adulteration and substitution of source materials are life-threatening problems that have grown along with its popularity. Consequently, a reliable identification method is important for the safety and quality assurance of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) materials. Molecular techniques provide an alternative means to conventional organoleptic and chemical identification methods and are superior in terms of their accuracy, sensitivity, resolution and reproducibility. Since the early 1990s, a number of molecular techniques have been developed to identify traditional medicinal materials based on DNA fingerprinting, specific amplification, DNA sequencing, DNA microarrays and fluorescence detection techniques. Molecular techniques are capable of differentiating traditional medicinal materials from their adulterants and substitutes in closely related species, subspecies, variants, cultivars and species from different localities, and, in some cases, they can distinguish the growth year and herb quality. This chapter introduces the major molecular identification techniques and reviews their applications in the identification of animal and botanical medicinal materials.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.and Shanghai Scientific and Technical Publishers 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Protein Science and Crystallography, School of Life SciencesThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatin, NTChina
  2. 2.National Resource Center for Chinese Materia MedicaChina Academy of Chinese Medical SciencesBeijingChina

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