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DNA barcoding of endangered Indian Paphiopedilum species


Prof. Shashi B. Babbar, Fax: 91-11-27666708; E-mail:


The indiscriminate collections of Paphiopedilum species from the wild for their exotic ornamental flowers have rendered these plants endangered. Although the trade of these endangered species from the wild is strictly forbidden, it continues unabated in one or other forms that elude the current identification methods. DNA barcoding that offers identification of a species even if only a small fragment of the organism at any stage of development is available could be of great utility in scrutinizing the illegal trade of both endangered plant and animal species. Therefore, this study was undertaken to develop DNA barcodes of Indian species of Paphiopedilum along with their three natural hybrids using loci from both the chloroplast and nuclear genomes. The five loci tested for their potential as effective barcodes were RNA polymerase-β subunit (rpoB), RNA polymerase-β’ subunit (rpoC1), Rubisco large subunit (rbcL) and maturase K (matK) from the chloroplast genome and nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (nrITS) from the nuclear genome. The intra- and inter-specific divergence values and species discrimination rates were calculated by Kimura 2 parameter (K2P) method using mega 4.0. The matK with 0.9% average inter-specific divergence value yielded 100% species resolution, thus could distinguish all the eight species of Paphiopedilum unequivocally. The species identification capability of these sequences was further confirmed as each of the matK sequences was found to be unique for the species when a blast analysis of these sequences was carried out on NCBI. nrITS, although had 4.4% average inter-specific divergence value, afforded only 50% species resolution. DNA barcodes of the three hybrids also reflected their parentage.