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Species identification of white false hellebore (Veratrum album subsp. oxysepalum) using real-time PCR

Kikkawa, Hitomi S., Tsuge, Kouichiro, Kubota, Satoshi, Aragane, Masako, Ohta, Hikoto, Sugita, Ritsuko
Forensic science international 2017 v.275 pp. 160-166
DNA, DNA primers, Veratrum album, accidents, chemical analysis, detection limit, food plants, foodborne illness, forensic sciences, ingestion, medical treatment, plant anatomy, poisoning, poisonous plants, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, species identification
Food poisoning is frequently caused by the accidental ingestion of toxic plants that possess strong morphological similarities to edible plants. False helleborine (Veratrum album) is one of the most common plants involved in such accidents. In cases of poisoning by toxic plants, rapid and accurate identification, usually based on the morphological or chemical analysis of plant parts, is required for appropriate medical treatment or forensic investigation. However, morphological examinations require experience in systematic botany because the samples are fragmentary, and chemical analysis of natural compounds can be difficult. In this study, we developed a TaqMan real-time PCR method using trnH-psbA and trnL-trnF that could be carried out in 30–60min. The lower detection limit was less than 10pg of DNA and the primer sets were specific to V. album and Veratrum stamineum. Mixed samples, cooked samples, and simulated gastric contents were successfully identified, and a multiplex assay of two regions was also possible. These results indicate that the TaqMan real-time PCR analysis is a very effective method to detect small samples of V. album and V. stamineum accurately and rapidly in poisoning cases.