Application of SCAR (sequence characterized amplified region) analysis to authenticate Lycium barbarum (wolfberry) and its adulterants

Cho Wing SZE, Juxian SONG, Ricky N S WONG, Yi Bin Feng, Tzi Bun Ng, Yao Tong, Kalin Yan Bo Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Fructus Lycii (Gouqizi) is well known in Chinese herbal medicine for its restorative function of benefiting the liver and kidney, replenishing vital essence and improving eyesight. However, ten species and varieties of Lycium have benn found to be substitutes or adulterants of Lycium barbarum (wolfberry) in commercial markets in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and in China generally. L. barbarum cv. 'Tianjinense' and Lycium chinense var. potaninii are the most common examples. It is difficult to differentiate among the Lycium species by traditional morphological and histological analyses. An easy and reliable approach based on SCAR (sequence characterized amplified region) analysis was developed in the present study to differentiate L. barbarum from other Lycium species. Two characteristic bands of approx. 700 and 650 bp were detected on the RAPD (random amplification of polymorphic DNA) profiles generated from samples of L. barbarum and L. chinense var. potaninii using the primer OPC-7. They were isolated and sequenced. Two primer sets, based on the sequences, could amplify a single specific band in samples of L. barbarum respectively, whereas no bands were detected in samples of L. chinense var. potaninii. The results confirmed that the SCAR technique can be employed for authenticating L. barbarum and its adulterants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-21
Number of pages7
JournalBiotechnology and Applied Biochemistry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2008

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Process Chemistry and Technology

User-Defined Keywords

  • Adulterant
  • Authentication
  • Fructus lycii
  • Lycium barbarum L. (wolfberry)
  • Random amplification of polymorphic DNA (RAPD)
  • Sequence characterized amplified region (SCAR)


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