DNA barcoding to trace Medicinal and Aromatic Plants from the field to the food supplement


The global market of food supplements is growing, along with consumers demand for high-quality herbal products. Nevertheless, substitution fraud, and adulteration cases remain a common safety problem of global concern. In the last years, the DNA barcoding approach has been proposed as a valid identification method and it is now commonly used in the authentication of herbal and food products. The objective of this study was to evaluate whether DNA barcoding can be applied to trace the plant species from the starting raw material to the finished commercial products. We selected a panel of 28 phytoextracts obtained through three different extraction methods (i.e., maceration, percolation and sonication) with different solvents (i.e., ethanol, deionized water and glycerol). Furthermore, we chose six plant species for which we collected and analysed all the intermediates of the industrial production. We sequenced and analyzed the sequence variability at DNA barcoding (psbA-trnH, ITS) and minibarcoding (rbcL 1-B) marker regions. Phytoextracts obtained through hydroalcoholic treatment, with the lower percentage of ethanol (<40%), and aqueous processing, at the lowest temperature, had major rate of sequencing and identification success. This study proves that DNA barcoding is a useful tool for Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs) traceability, which would provide consumers with safe and high-quality herbal products.