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Phylogenomic approaches to DNA barcoding of herbal medicines: developing clade-specific diagnostic characters for Berberis

Kreuzer, M., Howard, C., Pendry, C. A., Adhikari, B. and Hawkins, J. A. (2019) Phylogenomic approaches to DNA barcoding of herbal medicines: developing clade-specific diagnostic characters for Berberis. Frontiers in Plant Sciences, 10. 586.

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2019.00586


DNA barcoding of herbal medicines has been mainly concerned with authentication of products in trade and has raised awareness of species substitution and adulteration. More recently DNA barcodes have been included in pharmacopoeias, providing tools for regulatory purposes. The commonly used DNA barcoding regions in plants often fail to resolve identification to species level. This can be especially challenging in evolutionarily complex groups where incipient or reticulate speciation is ongoing. In this study, we take a phylogenomic approach, analyzing whole plastid sequences from the evolutionarily complex genus Berberis in order to develop DNA barcodes for the medicinally important species B. aristata. The phylogeny reconstructed from an alignment of ~160k bp of chloroplast DNA for 57 species reveals that the pharmacopoeial species in question is polyphyletic, complicating development of a species-specific DNA barcode. Instead we propose a DNA barcode that is clade specific, using our phylogeny to define Operational Phylogenetic Units (OPUs). The plastid alignment is then reduced to small, informative DNA regions including nucleotides diagnostic for these OPUs. These DNA barcodes were tested on commercial samples, and shown to discriminate plants in trade and therefore to meet the requirement of a pharmacopoeial standard. The proposed method provides an innovative approach for inferring DNA barcodes for evolutionarily complex groups for regulatory purposes and quality control.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:83475


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