Planta Med 2006; 72(8): 721-726
DOI: 10.1055/s-2006-931580
Original Paper
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Phylogeny of Medicinal Phyllanthus Species in China Based on Nuclear ITS and Chloroplast atpB-rbcL Sequences and Multiplex PCR Detection Assay Analysis

Simon Kwok-Ying Lee1 , Ping-To Li2 , David Tai-Wai Lau3 , Ping-Pui Yung1 , Richard Yuen-Chong Kong4 , Wang-Fun Fong1
  • 1Bioactive Products Research Group, Department of Biology and Chemistry, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, P. R. China
  • 2College of Forestry, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou, P. R. China
  • 3Institute of Chinese Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, P. R. China
  • 4Department of Biology and Chemistry, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, P. R. China
Further Information

Publication History

Received: September 28, 2005

Accepted: February 14, 2006

Publication Date:
29 May 2006 (online)


Plants of the genus Phyllanthus are commonly used in India, China and Korea for medicinal purposes. Although they are widely cultivated and marketed, there has been uncertainty about the efficacy of different species. A prerequisite of Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) is the authentication of relevant species, and this is now made unequivocal by applying DNA sequence tools. In this study the phylogenetic relationships among 18 Phyllanthus species found in China were investigated by DNA sequence analyses of the nuclear internal transcribed spacers (ITS1 and ITS2) along with the combined chloroplast atpB and rbcL sequences. Cladistic analysis indicated that this genus is paraphyletic and strongly supports the notion that two problematic and confusing species, P. niruri and P. amarus, are two individual, albeit closely related, species. We have also developed an ITS rDNA-based multiplex PCR assay to differentiate three medicinally important species, P. amarus, P. niruri and P. urinaria.


atpB:ATP synthase subunit B

cpDNA:chloroplast DNA

ITS:18S-26S internal transcribed spacer region

MP:maximum parsimony


nrDNA:nuclear DNA

rbcL:ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase large subunit


Prof. Wang-Fun Fong

Bioactive Products Research Group

Department of Biology and Chemistry

City University of Hong Kong

Hong Kong SAR

People's Republic of China

Phone: +852-2788-7406

Fax: +852-2788-7406