Accurate identification of the plant species that are present in herbal medicines is important for quality control. Although the dried roots of Aralia continentalis (Araliae Continentalis Radix) and Angelica biserrata (Angelicae Pubescentis Radix) are used in the same traditional medicine, namely Dok-Hwal in Korean and Du-Huo in Chinese, the medicines are described differently in the national pharmacopeia. Further confusion arises from the distribution of dried Levisticum officinale and Heracleum moellendorffii roots as the same medicine. Medicinal ingredients from all four plants are morphologically similar, and discrimination is difficult using conventional methods. Molecular identification methods offer rapidity and accuracy. The internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) region of the nuclear ribosomal RNA gene (rDNA) was sequenced in all four plant species, and the sequences were used to design species-specific primers. Primers for each species were then combined to allow sample analysis in a single PCR reaction. Commercial herbal medicine samples were obtained from Korea and China and analyzed using the multiplex assay. The assay successfully identified authentic medicines and also identified inauthentic or adulterated samples. The multiplex assay will be a useful tool for identification of authentic Araliae Continentalis Radix and/or Angelicae Pubescentis Radix preparations in Korea and China.
Keywords: Angelica biserrata; Angelicae Pubescentis Radix; Aralia continentalis; Araliae Continentalis Radix; internal transcribed spacer (ITS); molecular authentication; multiplex-polymerase chain reaction (multiplex-PCR); sequence characterized amplified region (SCAR) marker.