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Molecules 2016, 21(3), 343;

Genetic and Epigenetic Approaches for the Possible Detection of Adulteration and Auto-Adulteration in Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) Spice

Department of Sustainable Crop Production, Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Via Emilia Parmense 84, Piacenza 29122, Italy
BioDNA, Centro di Ricerca sulla biodiversità e sul DNA antico, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Piacenza 29122, Italy
Laboratory of Biotechnology and Natural Resources, Institute for Regional Development (IDR), Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, IDR-Biotecnología, Campus Universitario s/n, Albacete 02071, Spain
Tradimpex Jm Thiercelin sas, Parc de l’Ecopôle 3 Rue Pierre et Marie Curie, Combs La Ville 77380, France
Laboratory of Chemistry, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, School of Food, Biotechnology and Development, Agricultural University of Athens, 75 Iera Odos, Athens 11855, Greece
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Maria Z. Tsimidou and Petros A. Tarantilis
Received: 2 November 2015 / Revised: 5 February 2016 / Accepted: 4 March 2016 / Published: 11 March 2016
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Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) is very expensive and, because of this, often subject to adulteration. Modern genetic fingerprinting techniques are an alternative low cost technology to the existing chemical techniques, which are used to control the purity of food products. Buddleja officinalis Maxim, Gardenia jasminoides Ellis, Curcuma longa L., Carthamus tinctorius L. and Calendula officinalis L. are among the most frequently-used adulterants in saffron spice. Three commercial kits were compared concerning the ability to recover PCR-grade DNA from saffron, truly adulterated samples and possible adulterants, with a clear difference among them, mainly with the processed samples. Only one of the three kits was able to obtain amplifiable DNA from almost all of the samples, with the exception of extracts. On the recovered DNA, new markers were developed based on the sequence of the plastid genes matK and rbcL. These primers, mainly those developed on matK, were able to recognize saffron and the adulterant species and also in mixtures with very low percentages of adulterant. Finally, considering that the addition of different parts of saffron flowers is one of the most widespread adulterations, by analyzing the DNA of the different parts of the flower (styles, stamens and tepals) at the genetic and epigenetic level, we succeeded in finding differences between the three tissues that can be further evaluated for a possible detection of the kind of fraud. View Full-Text
Keywords: saffron; adulteration; DNA-based traceability; molecular markers saffron; adulteration; DNA-based traceability; molecular markers

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Soffritti, G.; Busconi, M.; Sánchez, R.A.; Thiercelin, J.-M.; Polissiou, M.; Roldán, M.; Fernández, J.A. Genetic and Epigenetic Approaches for the Possible Detection of Adulteration and Auto-Adulteration in Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) Spice. Molecules 2016, 21, 343.

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