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DNA Barcoding of Medicinal Plants


DNA barcoding is a useful technique for diversity analysis whereby a standardized region of DNA is used for the identification of a species or a taxonomic group of organisms. These standard regions used for identification are called the DNA barcode. These are small sequences of the entire genome. In plants, DNA barcoding has application in phylogenetic analysis, authentication, inter- and intraspecific diversity, classification into wild and cultivated genotypes, the study of phylogeographical patterns, and in the detection of adulteration. The barcode loci, i.e., the DNA regions used for the identification are able to discriminate the closely related species and identify new cryptic species as well. Depending on the taxon and complexity of the species, different barcode loci are used for the purpose. In animals, the universal DNA barcode, i.e., mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) gene is used for species discrimination. However, this gene cannot be used for plants due to its limited divergence. Thus, its use is limited only to some algae. Efforts are going on to find suitable universal barcode loci for plants. Since the last decades, matK, rbcL, trnH-psbA, ITS, trnL-F, 5S-rRNA, and 18S-rRNA candidate regions are being used as DNA barcodes in plants. The article provides an overview of the use of these candidate regions through different approaches which have gained importance due to the challenges in DNA barcoding of plants. The development of multilocus and tiered approaches along with the new frontier areas for application of this technique has been analyzed in detail.


  • DNA barcoding
  • Forensics
  • Herbal drugs
  • Medicinal plants
  • Multilocus
  • Single locus
  • Tiered

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-981-10-1085-9_4
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Fig. 4.1



Barcode of Life Data Systems


Consortium for the Barcode of Life


International Barcode of Life Project


World Health Organization


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The financial assistance under BTISnet program of DBT, New Delhi, is gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Ashok Sharma .

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© 2016 Springer Science+Business Media Singapore

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Srivastava, S., Sanchita, Bhargava, M., Sharma, A. (2016). DNA Barcoding of Medicinal Plants. In: Tsay, HS., Shyur, LF., Agrawal, D., Wu, YC., Wang, SY. (eds) Medicinal Plants - Recent Advances in Research and Development. Springer, Singapore.

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