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Molecules 2018, 23(8), 1932; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules23081932

Establishment of a PCR Assay for the Detection and Discrimination of Authentic Cordyceps and Adulterant Species in Food and Herbal Medicines

1
Division of Herbal Medicine Research, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Daejeon 34054, Korea
2
Institute for Bio-Medical Convergence, College of Medicine, Catholic Kwandong University, Incheon 22711, Korea
3
Department of Microbiology, College of Medicine, Catholic Kwandong University, Gangneung 25601, Korea
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 20 June 2018 / Revised: 30 July 2018 / Accepted: 31 July 2018 / Published: 2 August 2018
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Abstract

Accurate detection and differentiation of adulterants in food ingredients and herbal medicines are crucial for the safety and basic quality control of these products. Ophiocordyceps sinensis is described as the only fungal source for the authentic medicinal ingredient used in the herbal medicine “Cordyceps”, and two other fungal species, Cordyceps militaris and Isaria tenuipes, are the authentic fungal sources for food ingredients in Korea. However, substitution of these three species, and adulteration of herbal material and dietary supplements originating from Cordyceps pruinosa or Isaria cicadae, seriously affects the safety and reduces the therapeutic efficacy of these products. Distinguishing between these species based on their morphological features is very difficult, especially in commercially processed products. In this study, we employed DNA barcode-based species-specific sequence characterized amplified region (SCAR) markers to discriminate authentic herbal Cordyceps medicines and Cordyceps-derived dietary supplements from related but inauthentic species. The reliable authentication tool exploited the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of a nuclear ribosomal RNA gene (nrDNA). We used comparative nrDNA-ITS sequence analysis of the five fungal species to design two sets of SCAR markers. Furthermore, we used a set of species-specific SCAR markers to establish a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay for the detection of species, contamination, and degree of adulteration. We confirmed the discriminability and reproducibility of the SCAR marker analysis and the real-time PCR assay using commercially processed food ingredients and herbal medicines. The developed SCAR markers may be used to efficiently differentiate authentic material from their related adulterants on a species level. The ITS-based SCAR markers and the real-time PCR assay constitute a useful genetic tool for preventing the adulteration of Cordyceps and Cordyceps-related dietary supplements. View Full-Text
Keywords: Ophiocordyceps sinensis; Cordyceps militaris; sequence characterized amplified region (SCAR) marker; real-time PCR; molecular authentication Ophiocordyceps sinensis; Cordyceps militaris; sequence characterized amplified region (SCAR) marker; real-time PCR; molecular authentication
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Moon, B.C.; Kim, W.J.; Park, I.; Sung, G.-H.; Noh, P. Establishment of a PCR Assay for the Detection and Discrimination of Authentic Cordyceps and Adulterant Species in Food and Herbal Medicines. Molecules 2018, 23, 1932.

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