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DNA barcoding for species identification in the Palmae family

Author(s): A. Naeem1, A.A. Khan1, H.M.N. Cheema1, I.A. Khan1 and A. Buerkert2

DNA barcoding is a promising tool for species identification at the molecular level. The barcoding system is well established for species differentiation in animals, while it is less common in plants. We evaluated 2 barcoding regions, maturase K (matK) and ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase (rbcL), to compare species of Palmae according to amplification success, discrimination power, and inter- and intra-specific divergence. Both regions appear to have potential to discriminate most species of Palmae, but 2 species, Phoenix dactylifera and Phoenix sylvestris, did not show variation in the nucleotides of the barcode genes. P. sylvestris is said to be the sister species of P. dactilyfera according to its morphological and genetic proximity to the cultivated date palm. Thus, the status of these 2 species needs to be re-evaluated considering more genes as barcodes. Furthermore, rbcL has a higher discrimination power (90%) than matK (66.6%) and can thus be potentially used as a standard barcode to discriminate the species of Palmae.