Planta Med 2010; 76(17): 1963-1974
DOI: 10.1055/s-0030-1250519
Traditional Chinese Medicine
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

New Aspects of DNA-based Authentication of Chinese Medicinal Plants by Molecular Biological Techniques

Günther Heubl1
  • 1Biology Department I – Systematic Botany, Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich, Munich, Germany
Further Information

Publication History

received May 12, 2010 revised October 4, 2010

accepted October 7, 2010

Publication Date:
05 November 2010 (online)


DNA technology provides a powerful tool to complement chemical analyses for authentication of Chinese medicinal plants and to ensure that herbal materials are not contaminated with ineffective or potentially harmful substitutes or adulterants. In the last two decades molecular biotechnology has provided sophisticated molecular techniques for authentication of botanical materials at the DNA level. This review provides an account of the most commonly used DNA-based technologies (RAPD, RFLP, ARMS, CAPS, AFLP, DAF, ISSR, SSR, sequencing, hybridization and microarrays) including suitable examples of Chinese medical plants. A critical evaluation of all methods is presented concerning sensitivity, reliability, reproducibility, and running costs. Recent achievements in the field of DNA barcoding and DNA chip technology that offer great potentials for screening of DNA and emerging new developments for future identification of species are briefly outlined.


Prof. Dr. Günther Heubl

Department Biologie I – Systematische Botanik
LMU München

Menzingerst. 67

80638 München


Phone: +49 89 17 86 12 07

Fax: +49 89 17 26 38