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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 809037, 10 pages
Research Article

Barcoding Melting Curve Analysis for Rapid, Sensitive, and Discriminating Authentication of Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) from Its Adulterants

1Beijing Key Laboratory of Protection and Application of Chinese Medicinal Resources, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
2State Key Laboratory Breeding Base of Dao-di Herbs, National Resource Center for Chinese Materia Medica, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing 100700, China
3Institute of Agricultural and Biological Resources Utilization, Hunan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Changsha 410125, China

Received 27 June 2014; Revised 20 September 2014; Accepted 30 September 2014; Published 7 December 2014

Academic Editor: Anita Mandal

Copyright © 2014 Chao Jiang 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.


Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) is one of the most important and expensive medicinal spice products in the world. Because of its high market value and premium price, saffron is often adulterated through the incorporation of other materials, such as Carthamus tinctorius L. and Calendula officinalis L. flowers, Hemerocallis L. petals, Daucus carota L. fleshy root, Curcuma longa L. rhizomes, Zea may L., and Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn. stigmas. To develop a straightforward, nonsequencing method for rapid, sensitive, and discriminating detection of these adulterants in traded saffron, we report here the application of a barcoding melting curve analysis method (Bar-MCA) that uses the universal chloroplast plant DNA barcoding region trnH-psbA to identify adulterants. When amplified at DNA concentrations and annealing temperatures optimized for the curve analysis, peaks were formed at specific locations for saffron (81.92°C) and the adulterants: D. carota (81.60°C), C. tinctorius (80.10°C), C. officinalis (79.92°C), Dendranthema morifolium (Ramat.) Tzvel. (79.62°C), N. nucifera (80.58°C), Hemerocallis fulva (L.) L. (84.78°C), and Z. mays (84.33°C). The constructed melting curves for saffron and its adulterants have significantly different peak locations or shapes. In conclusion, Bar-MCA could be a faster and more cost-effective method to authenticate saffron and detect its adulterants.