Economic Botany

, Volume 56, Issue 2, pp 154–164 | Cite as

Using amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLP) to identify Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa)

  • Nyree J. C. Zerega
  • Scott Mori
  • Charlotte Lindqvist
  • Qunyi Zheng
  • Timothy J. Motley


The rhizome ofActaea racemosa L., commonly called black cohosh, is a popular botanical dietary supplement used to treat female health concerns. The rhizomes used in black cohosh products are often collected from the wild. To ensure quality control, it is imperative that plants be correctly identified. This paper examines the use of the DNA fingerprinting technique, AFLP, as an analytical means of identifyingA. racemosa from three other closely related sympatric species. To this end, 262 AFLP markers were generated, and one unique fingerprint was identified forA. racemosa, whereas two, six, and eight unique fingerprints were identified for the closely related speciesA. pachypoda, A. cordifolia, andA. podocarpa, respectively. Two commercial black cohosh products were also subjected to AFLP analysis and shown to contain onlyA. racemosa. The results of this study suggest that AFLP analysis may offer a useful method for quality control in the botanical dietary supplements industry.

Key Words

AFLP black cohosh Actaea racemosa DNA fingerprinting botanical dietary supplements Ranunculaceae Cimicifuga racemosa 

Die verwendung von AFLP-Mustern zur Identifikation von Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa)


Das Rhizom vonActaea racemosa L., allgemein als ‘black cohosh’ bezeichnet, ist eine beliebte pflanzliche Diätsergänzung, die für weibliche Gesundheitsprobleme benützt wird. Oft sind die in ‘black cohosh’-Produkten verwendeten Rhizome in freier Natur gesammelt. Um Qualitätskontrolle zu sichern, ist es zwingend, die Pflanzen richtig zu identifizieren. Diese Studie überprüft den Gebrauch der DNA-Fingerabdrucktechnik, AFLP, als analytisches Mittel der Identifizierung, umA. racemosa von drei anderen in ihrer Nähe beheimateten und nah verwandten Spezies zuunterscheiden. Zu diesem Zweck wurden 262 AFLP-Fingerabdrücke erzeugt. Für A. racemosa wurde ein einzigartiger Fingerabdruck identifiziert, während für die nah verwandten Spezies A. pachypoda zwei, A. cordifolia sechs, und A. podocarpa acht einzigartige Fingerabdrücke gefunden wurden. Zwei kommerzielle ‘black cohosh’ -Produkte wurden ebenfalls der AFLP-Analyse unterzogen, wobei nur A. racemosa nachgewiesen werden konnte. Die Resultate dieser Studie zeigen, daβ die AFLP-Technik eine nützliche Methode für die Qualitdtskontrolle in der pflanzlichen Diätsergänzungsindustrie bieten kann.


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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden Press 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nyree J. C. Zerega
    • 1
  • Scott Mori
    • 1
  • Charlotte Lindqvist
    • 2
  • Qunyi Zheng
    • 3
  • Timothy J. Motley
    • 1
  1. 1.New York Botanical GardenBronxUSA
  2. 2.Norwegian Forest Research InstituteNorway
  3. 3.Pure World Botanicals, Inc.South HackensackUSA

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