Origanum L. (Lamiaceae) is an important genus of medicinal and aromatic plants used since ancient times as culinary herbs and remedies in traditional medicine. Although it is a relatively small genus, intra-generic species delineation, as well as its inter-generic relationships within tribe Mentheae, are still poorly understood. High resolution melting (HRM) analysis, coupled with microsatellite markers (SSRs), could facilitate the molecular identification and characterization of certain genotypes more efficiently and relatively faster when compared to other analytical methods. In this study, 38 Origanum samples corresponding to six Origanum taxa (O. dictamnus, O. majorana, O. onites, O. scabrum, O. sipyleum, and O. vulgare subsp. hirtum) were analyzed, using six microsatellite loci. Our goal was to molecularly identify and discriminate among the selected samples and to evaluate the ability of the HRM technique as an analytical tool for the discrimination of Origanum species from Greece. The temperature-shifted melting curves produced by the HRM analysis, resulted in 98 unique HRM profiles, which enabled the discrimination of the Origanum genotypes studied. According to the similarity dendrogram based on the HRM profiles, six unique clusters were formed, each one corresponding to a single taxon. In conclusion, HRM genotyping provided a fast, cost-effective method, well suited for the molecular characterization and identification of Origanum taxa and for the authentication of the original genetic material.
Keywords: Authentication; Genotyping; High resolution melting analysis; Microsatellites; Origanum.