ITS1 Barcode and Phytochemical Analysis by Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry of Corynaea crassa Hook. f (Balanophoraceae) from Ecuador and Peru

Genes (Basel). 2022 Dec 28;14(1):88. doi: 10.3390/genes14010088.


The use of medicinal plants is the basis of traditional healthcare. Recently, the use of herbal medicine has been increasing among consumers due to availability, economy, and less side effect. For instance, the hemiparasite plant Corynaea crassa has medicinal properties and could be found in some regions of America, from Costa Rica to Bolivia. Phytochemical and genetic characterization of medicinal plants is needed for proper identification of metabolites responsible for medicinal properties and for genotyping, respectively. Moreover, characterization of medicinal plants through the use of DNA barcodes is an important tool for phylogenetic analysis and identification of species; furthermore, complemented with phytochemical analysis, both are useful for identification of plant species and quality control of medicinal products. The objective of this study was to analyze the species of C. crassa collected in Ecuador and Peru from the phylogenetic and phytochemical point of view. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was performed for amplification of the internal transcribed spacer 1 (ITS1) region after DNA extraction of samples of C. crassa. Blast analysis was performed in the GenBank database with the ITS1 sequences obtained from two accessions of C. crassa from Ecuador (GenBank accession numbers OM471920 and OM471919 for isolates CIBE-17 and CIBE-18, respectively) and three from Peru (GenBank accession numbers OM471921, OM471922, and OM471923 for isolates CIBE-13, CIBE-14, and CIBE-15, respectively). The accessions available in the GenBank were used for phylogenetic analysis. For the phytochemical analysis, hydroalcoholic extracts were obtained by maceration using 80% ethanol as solvent, followed by a derivatization process and analysis by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Based on the phylogenetic analysis of the C. crassa samples, the ITS1 sequence could be used to differentiate C. crassa of different locations. The samples of C. crassa from Ecuador and Peru are more similar between them than with other clades including Helosis spp. The phytochemical study revealed differences in the presence and relative abundance of some metabolites; mainly eugenol, 1,4-lactone arabinonic acid, dimethoxyrabelomycin and azelaic acid, which are reported for the first time for the species under study and the genus Corynaea. These results are the first findings on the combined analysis using genetic and phytochemical analysis for C. crassa, which could be used as a useful tool for quality control of the C. crassa species in medicinal products.

Keywords: internal transcribed spacer; medicinal; parasitic plant.

MeSH terms

  • Balanophoraceae*
  • Ecuador
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Peru
  • Phylogeny
  • Phytochemicals
  • Plants, Medicinal* / genetics


  • Phytochemicals

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.