Pharmaceutical Medicine

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 53–61 | Cite as

ITS2: An Ideal DNA Barcode for the Arid Medicinal Plant Rhazya Stricta

  • Samia A. KhanEmail author
  • Mohamed N. Baeshen
  • Hassan A. Ramadan
  • Nabih A. Baeshen
Original Research Article



In Saudi Arabia, Rhazya stricta is a widely used folkloric plant because of its various therapeutic properties. It is sold in herbal markets as a dried powder; however, the absence of visible phenotypic traits in the powder can mask its authenticity. Potential misidentification of this substance threatens consumer health. DNA barcoding could accurately identify this plant regardless of its physical state, however barcoding presents the challenge of variations in marker loci.


The objective of this work was to assess barcode markers from the chloroplast and nuclear regions to determine their taxonomic accuracy in R. stricta barcoding, and select the best marker for this species that could fulfill the authentication test for its fresh and dried samples.


In this study, we assessed seven barcode markers from the chloroplast (psbA-trnH, matK, rbcL, rpoB, and rpoC1) and nuclear regions (ITS1and ITS2). We compared DNA sequences of R. stricta from 50 fresh locally collected samples and 10 dried ground samples from the herbal market with the database sequences of R. stricta, R. orientalis, and eight other related species as controls. We utilized three methods (BLAST, nearest distance, and neighbor-joining tree) in this analysis.


With the exception of psbA-trnH, all the chloroplast markers determined high similarity with other taxa. However, nuclear ITS2 best distinguished between R. stricta, R. orientalis, and other related species because of its secondary structures, which allowed for more accurate distinctions. A two-locus marker of ITS1 + ITS2 sequences also showed promising results. A two-dimensional image of our proposed marker was generated to more easily handle DNA barcoding applications.


Our study indicates that ITS2 is a cost-effective barcoding marker capable of verifying the authenticity of R. stricta and other medicinal plants in order to protect consumer health.


Compliance with Ethical Standards


The funding source for this study was King Abdullah City of Science and Technology (KACST), who supported this study under grant number GSP-34-119.

Conflict of interest

Samia A. Khan, Mohamed N. Baeshen, Hassan A. Ramadan, and Nabih A. Baeshen report no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

40290_2019_266_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (39 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 39 kb)


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biological Sciences, King Abdulaziz UniversityJeddahSaudi Arabia
  2. 2.Biological SciencesUniversity of JeddahJeddahSaudi Arabia
  3. 3.Department of Marine Biology, Faculty of Marine SciencesKing Abdulaziz UniversityJeddahSaudi Arabia
  4. 4.Department of Cell BiologyNational Research CenterDokkiEgypt

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