Blog
About

  • Record: found
  • Abstract: found
  • Article: found
Is Open Access

Deep Sequencing of Plant and Animal DNA Contained within Traditional Chinese Medicines Reveals Legality Issues and Health Safety Concerns

Read this article at

Bookmark
      There is no author summary for this article yet. Authors can add summaries to their articles on ScienceOpen to make them more accessible to a non-specialist audience.

      Abstract

      Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been practiced for thousands of years, but only within the last few decades has its use become more widespread outside of Asia. Concerns continue to be raised about the efficacy, legality, and safety of many popular complementary alternative medicines, including TCMs. Ingredients of some TCMs are known to include derivatives of endangered, trade-restricted species of plants and animals, and therefore contravene the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) legislation. Chromatographic studies have detected the presence of heavy metals and plant toxins within some TCMs, and there are numerous cases of adverse reactions. It is in the interests of both biodiversity conservation and public safety that techniques are developed to screen medicinals like TCMs. Targeting both the p-loop region of the plastid trnL gene and the mitochondrial 16S ribosomal RNA gene, over 49,000 amplicon sequence reads were generated from 15 TCM samples presented in the form of powders, tablets, capsules, bile flakes, and herbal teas. Here we show that second-generation, high-throughput sequencing (HTS) of DNA represents an effective means to genetically audit organic ingredients within complex TCMs. Comparison of DNA sequence data to reference databases revealed the presence of 68 different plant families and included genera, such as Ephedra and Asarum, that are potentially toxic. Similarly, animal families were identified that include genera that are classified as vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered, including Asiatic black bear ( Ursus thibetanus) and Saiga antelope ( Saiga tatarica). Bovidae, Cervidae, and Bufonidae DNA were also detected in many of the TCM samples and were rarely declared on the product packaging. This study demonstrates that deep sequencing via HTS is an efficient and cost-effective way to audit highly processed TCM products and will assist in monitoring their legality and safety especially when plant reference databases become better established.

      Author Summary

      Chemicals derived from plants and animals are widely used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), and it is commonplace for remedies to contain a complex list of ingredients. Due to their heterogeneous origins, and subsequent processing into pills and powders, it can be difficult for the biological origin of ingredients within each remedy to be reliably determined. In this study, we have, for the first time, used a second-generation DNA sequencing method to analyse TCM remedies and determine their animal and plant composition. Using this deep-sequencing approach we identified plant species that are known to contain toxic chemicals and identified animal DNA from species that are currently endangered and protected by international laws. Consumers need to be made aware of legal and health safety issues that surround TCMs before adopting them as a treatment option. More widespread testing of complementary medicines using the DNA methods developed herein represents an efficient and cost-effective way to audit their composition.

      Related collections

      Most cited references 88

      • Record: found
      • Abstract: found
      • Article: not found

      Basic local alignment search tool.

      A new approach to rapid sequence comparison, basic local alignment search tool (BLAST), directly approximates alignments that optimize a measure of local similarity, the maximal segment pair (MSP) score. Recent mathematical results on the stochastic properties of MSP scores allow an analysis of the performance of this method as well as the statistical significance of alignments it generates. The basic algorithm is simple and robust; it can be implemented in a number of ways and applied in a variety of contexts including straightforward DNA and protein sequence database searches, motif searches, gene identification searches, and in the analysis of multiple regions of similarity in long DNA sequences. In addition to its flexibility and tractability to mathematical analysis, BLAST is an order of magnitude faster than existing sequence comparison tools of comparable sensitivity.
        Bookmark
        • Record: found
        • Abstract: not found
        • Article: not found

        QIIME allows analysis of high-throughput community sequencing data.

          Bookmark
          • Record: found
          • Abstract: not found
          • Article: not found

          EMBOSS: the European Molecular Biology Open Software Suite.

            Bookmark

            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Australian Wildlife Forensic Services and Ancient DNA Laboratory, School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Australia
            [2 ]Centre for Comparative Genomics, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Australia
            American Museum of Natural History, United States of America
            Author notes

            Conceived and designed the experiments: ML Coghlan, J Haile, M Bunce. Performed the experiments: ML Coghlan, J Houston, J Haile, NE White. Analyzed the data: ML Coghlan, J Haile, DC Murray, P Moolhuijzen, MI Bellgard, M Bunce. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: P Moolhuijzen, MI Bellgard, DC Murray, M Bunce. Wrote the paper: ML Coghlan, J Haile, DC Murray, M Bunce.

            Contributors
            Role: Editor
            Journal
            PLoS Genet
            PLoS Genet
            plos
            plosgen
            PLoS Genetics
            Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
            1553-7390
            1553-7404
            April 2012
            April 2012
            12 April 2012
            : 8
            : 4
            3325194
            22511890
            PGENETICS-D-11-01723
            10.1371/journal.pgen.1002657
            (Editor)
            Coghlan et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
            Counts
            Pages: 11
            Categories
            Research Article
            Biology
            Genetics
            Animal Genetics
            Molecular Genetics
            Plant Genetics
            Medicine
            Complementary and Alternative Medicine

            Genetics

            Comments

            Comment on this article