ESR13: Bar-HRM traceability of toxic species in food and medicine

In short

Poisonous plants can cause a variety of severe intoxications. Food adulteration harms the consumer in many ways. Illegal trade accelerates plant extinction and accounts for huge economic losses every year. Based on the above, there is an urgent need for efficient identification for edible, toxic, and endangered plant species. In achieving this goal, we will explore the existing and develop new DNA-based identification tools to be more accurate, less costly, and less time-consuming than the methods currently available.

Project description

Illegal collection and trade poses a serious threat to native plant species that are edible or of pharmaceutical or commercial interest. Species of restricted distribution, especially the endemic ones, are affected disproportionately and require special conservation measures. The same applies to natural hybrids, due to their unique genetic constitution and importance as distinct taxa. In addition to the above, substitution of wild species, due to misidentification, can lead to severe adverse reactions. Barcoding is an important tool towards the solution for the above issues. We will focus on common edible, poisonous, allergenic and pharmaceutical plants of the Greek flora. Through sequencing of barcoding regions and metabarcoding techniques, specific barcoding markers will be developed to be used either with PCR and/or with the High Resolution Melting Analysis for species-specific identification. Additionally, this approach will be tested at the genus and family level with specific genera most at risk by trade today.

Objective: Species level identification of plants edible, poisonous, allergenic and pharmaceuticals as well as their products, independent of state, using barcoding, Bar-HRM or metabarcoding techniques.