Economic Botany Section
Schwarzbach, Andrea E. , Morris, Julie A. .
The use of DNA barcoding for identification of medicinal plant products: an example from plants used in the Texas-Mexico border region.
DNA barcoding generates a unique identification tag for individual species based on the sequence of a short stretch of DNA. We have started to evaluate the potential of DNA barcoding methods for identification of medicinal plants using examples from the Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas. Most of the herbal products are sold at local markets across the border or in local herbal shops throughout Southern Texas and the border region. The herbal materials are mostly sold as ground or coarsely shredded substances that are used to prepare treatments by the customer at home or by local healers. Most often no standard identification procedure is in place since herbal products are considered nutritional supplements that are not under any rigorous FDA approval requirements or safety control protocols. The DNA barcoding will be used as an identification method for the medicinal plant preparations that allows fast and efficient quality control for distributors, customers, and in case of a poisoning accident will aide physicians in determining correct treatment. For this preliminary study we barcoded several plant preparations allowing us to identify multiple species in some cases sold under the same common name. Overall, DNA barcoding proved to be a powerful method for identification of plant parts. However, current limitations are 1. DNA extraction methods that are not suitable for all medicinal plant preservations, 2. the lack of reference sequences for clear identification to the species level, and 3. problems with preparations containing more than one species.
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1 - The University of Texas-Brownsville, Department of Biological Sciences, 80 Fort Brown, Brownsville, TX, 78520, USA
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Date: Wednesday, July 30th, 2008
Time: 8:45 AM