Efficacy of the core DNA barcodes in identifying processed and poorly conserved plant materials commonly used in South African traditional medicine

Ledile T. Mankga, Kowiyou Yessoufou, Annah M. Moteetee, Barnabas H. Daru, Michelle van der Bank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Medicinal plants cover a broad range of taxa, which may be phylogenetically less related but morphologically very similar. Such morphological similarity between species may lead to misidentification and inappropriate use. Also the substitution of a medicinal plant by a cheaper alternative (e.g. other non-medicinal plant species), either due to misidentification, or deliberately to cheat consumers, is an issue of growing concern. In this study, we used DNA barcoding to identify commonly used medicinal plants in South Africa. Using the core plant barcodes, matK and rbcLa, obtained from processed and poorly conserved materials sold at the muthi traditional medicine market, we tested efficacy of the barcodes in species discrimination. Based on genetic divergence, PCR amplification efficiency and BLAST algorithm, we revealed varied discriminatory potentials for the DNA barcodes. In general, the barcodes exhibited high discriminatory power, indicating their effectiveness in verifying the identity of the most common plant species traded in South African medicinal markets. BLAST algorithm successfully matched 61% of the queries against a reference database, suggesting that most of the information supplied by sellers at traditional medicinal markets in South Africa is correct. Our findings reinforce the utility of DNA barcoding technique in limiting false identification that can harm public health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-233
Number of pages19
JournalZooKeys
Volume365
Issue numberSPEC.ISSUE
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Keywords

  • Core DNA barcodes
  • Medicinal plants
  • South Africa
  • Species identification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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