At de Boer Lab our research focuses on plant identification using molecular barcoding. DNA barcoding and metabarcoding have a huge potential for biodiversity, conservation, and monitoring of trade in plantgenetic resources for pharmaceutical manufacturing, horticulture and tropical timber trade. We work with molecular identification of processed plant products in trade, specifically of medicinal plant species susceptible to adulteration, overharvested and endangered taxa, and monitoring of cross-border trade in CITES-listed species. We use mainly high-throughput sequencing for metabarcoding of complex mixtures and target-enrichment sequencing for phylogenomics.
What we do
The Norwegian-Romanian collaborative research project PhytoAuthent applies DNA barcoding and metabarcoding to complex herbal food supplements with the objective of evaluating the efficacy and efficiency of barcoding as a novel authentication method for these products.
Recent studies in the field of DNA barcoding of herbal supplements have highlighted widespread species substitution, adulteration and the use of unlabeled fillers. These studies have also launched a discussion about the suitability of DNA barcoding for authentication of herbal supplements. In Europe less is known about the fidelity of herbal food supplement labeling, but the status quo could be similar to that in the United States. Monitoring and authentication of herbals in Europe is further complicated as enforcement of national and European legislation differs from country to country.
In this collaborative project, we aim to cover all major aspects concerning herbal food supplements from the legal framework to manufacturing processes and suppliers, and from consumers to safety issues and authentication. The aim is to gather information and test, develop and apply innovative molecular analysis methodologies for plant identification in herbal products, in real life case scenarios and in cooperation with local stakeholders in the herbal pharmaceutical industry.
The project investigates species discrimination and authentication using high-throughput sequencing in several complexes in which substitution has far-reaching significance. The goal is to develop accurate high-throughput DNA barcoding for species-level identification and authentication of herbal supplements.