Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been playing a major role in health care in China for millennia. Accurate authentication is always necessary to prevent the target herbs from intentional and inadvertent adulteration with other plant species. Morphological and histological authentication is now commonly practiced but they are not precise enough to authenticate those herbs which are possibly substituted or adulterated by plants with similar shapes and tissue constructs. Ordinary chemical authentication was also introduced to TCM but it is often not reliable enough to produce easy-to-interpret results. Therefore, it is necessary to develop a more effective, accurate, reliable and sensitive technology for the authentication of herbs. DNA manipulation techniques developed for molecular biotechnology have been adapted to the authentication of herbs in recent years. These techniques comprise of the molecular markers, sequencing of specific genes, and sophisticated hybridization setups such as DNA microarrays. Underside, we review the development of current techniques for authentication. In addition, we also describe the use of molecular markers in authentication of the most studied Chinese herbs.
- molecular authentication
- Chinese herbal materials