Background: Commercially available herbal and medicinal plants-based products are
susceptible to substitution or contamination with other unlabeled or undesired materials. This will
reduce the quality of the product, and may lead to intoxication and allergy.
Methods: DNA barcoding is a molecular technology that allows the identification of plant materials
at the species level, by sequencing short stretches of standardized gene sequences from nuclear or
organelle genome in an easy, rapid, accurate and cost-effective manner. The aim of this research is
to apply DNA barcoding to investigate the authenticity of commercially available herbal and medicinal
plant-based products within the UAE markets. A total of 30 samples were analyzed, covering
six different herbal products (thyme, cardamom, anise, basil, turmeric, and ginger), obtained in
fresh and dried forms. DNA was extracted and three barcode loci including (rbcL), (matK) and
(ITS) were amplified, sequenced and analyzed by BLAST.
Results: In terms of amplification efficiency, the results suggest that rbcL is the most suitable
marker for species identification giving 75% of successful amplification, followed by ITS with
66.67%, whereas matK had the lowest with 18.52%. Adulteration was detected in two samples,
ginger powder and dry thyme leave samples. The adulterants were from Triticum and Oryza genera.
Conclusion: Clearly, the results from this report provide evidence that DNA barcoding technique is
efficient in the recognition of commercial plant products. Thus, it can be considered as a fast, effective,
and reliable method to detect adulteration in plant-based products in the UAE market.