J Syst Evol ›› 2011, Vol. 49 ›› Issue (3): 271-283.DOI: 10.1111/j.1759-6831.2011.00132.x

• Reviews • Previous Articles    

Identification of herbal medicinal materials using DNA barcodes

1Ming LI 2Hui CAO 3Paul Pui‐Hay BUT 1,3Pang‐Chui SHAW*   

  1. 1(State Key Laboratory of Phytochemistry and Plant Resources in West China (CUHK), Institute of Chinese Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong, China)
    2(National Engineering Research Centre for Modernization of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Guangdong Province, Zhuhai 519020, China)
    3(School of Life Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong, China)
  • Received:2010-12-20 Published:2011-06-01

Abstract: Herbal medicinal materials have been used worldwide for centuries to maintain health and to treat disease. However, adulteration of herbal medicines remains a major concern of users and industry for reasons of safety and efficacy. Identification of herbal medicinal materials by DNA technology has been widely applied, started from the mid-1990s. In recent years, DNA barcoding of global plant species using four standard barcodes (rbcL, matK, trnHpsbA and ITS) has been a major focus in the fields of biodiversity and conservation. These DNA barcodes can also be used as reliable tools to facilitate the identification of herbal medicinal materials for the safe use of herbs, quality control, and forensic investigation. Many studies have applied these DNA barcodes for the identification of herbal medicinal species and their adulterants. The present article reviews efforts in the identification of herbal medicinal materials using the standard DNA barcodes and other DNA sequence-based markers.

Key words: DNA barcode, herbal medicinal materials, internal transcribed spacer (ITS), matK, molecular identification, rbcL, trnH-psbA.