Differentiation of Mitragyna speciosa, a narcotic plant, from allied Mitragyna species using DNA barcoding-high-resolution melting (Bar-HRM) analysis

Sci Rep. 2021 Mar 24;11(1):6738. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-86228-9.


Mitragyna speciosa (Korth.) Havil. [MS], or “kratom” in Thai, is the only narcotic species among the four species of Mitragyna in Thailand, which also include Mitragyna diversifolia (Wall. ex G. Don) Havil. [MD], Mitragyna hirsuta Havil. [MH], and Mitragyna rotundifolia (Roxb.) O. Kuntze [MR]. M. speciosa is a tropical tree belonging to the Rubiaceae family and has been prohibited by law in Thailand. However, it has been extensively covered in national and international news, as its abuse has become more popular. M. speciosa is a narcotic plant and has been used as an opium substitute and traditionally used for the treatment of chronic pain and various illnesses. Due to morphological disparities in the genus, the identification of plants in various forms, including fresh leaves, dried leaf powder, and finished products, is difficult. In this study, DNA barcoding combined with high-resolution melting (Bar-HRM) analysis was performed to differentiate M. speciosa from allied Mitragyna and to assess the capability of Bar-HRM assays to identify M. speciosa in suspected kratom or M. speciosa-containing samples. Bar-HRM analysis of PCR amplicons was based on the ITS2, rbcL, trnH-psbA, and matK DNA barcode regions. The melting profiles of ITS2 amplicons were clearly distinct, which enabled the authentication and differentiation of Mitragyna species from allied species. This study reveals that DNA barcoding coupled with HRM is an efficient tool with which to identify M. speciosa and M. speciosa-containing samples and ensure the safety and quality of traditional Thai herbal medicines.

PMID:33762644 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-021-86228-9