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Advances in Agriculture
Volume 2014, Article ID 831875, 8 pages
Review Article

DNA Barcoding for Minor Crops and Food Traceability

ZooPlantLab, Dipartimento di Biotecnologie e Bioscienze, Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, Piazza della Scienza 2, 20126 Milano, Italy

Received 27 March 2014; Accepted 11 June 2014; Published 23 June 2014

Academic Editor: Pawan L. Kulwal

Copyright © 2014 Andrea Galimberti et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This outlook paper addresses the problem of the traceability of minor crops. These kinds of cultivations consist in a large number of plants locally distributed with a modest production in terms of cultivated acreage and quantity of final product. Because of globalization, the diffusion of minor crops is increasing due to their benefit for human health or their use as food supplements. Such a phenomenon implies a major risk for species substitution or uncontrolled admixture of manufactured plant products with severe consequences for the health of consumers. The need for a reliable identification system is therefore essential to evaluate the quality and provenance of minor agricultural products. DNA-based techniques can help in achieving this mission. In particular, the DNA barcoding approach has gained a role of primary importance thanks to its universality and versatility. Here, we present the advantages in the use of DNA barcoding for the characterization and traceability of minor crops based on our previous or ongoing studies at the ZooPlantLab (Milan, Italy). We also discuss how DNA barcoding may potentially be transferred from the laboratory to the food supply chain, from field to table.