Molecular characterization of Ephedra species found in Pakistan

S. Ghafoor, M.M. Shah, H. Ahmad, Z.A. Swati, S.H. Shah,A. Pervez, U. Farooq
Published December 20, 2007
Genet. Mol. Res. 6 (4): 1123-1130 (2007)

About the authors
S. Ghafoor, M.M. Shah, H. Ahmad, Z.A. Swati, S.H. Shah,A. Pervez, U. Farooq

Corresponding author
M.M. Shah


Ephedra, also known as “ma huang”, is a dioecious, drought- and frost-resistant, perennial, evergreen shrub with compelling medicinal value. The genus is represented by 42 species around the world, 9 of which were provisionally reported from Pakistan. Species of the genus have a controversial taxonomy due to their overlapping morphological features. Conventional tools alone are not sufficient for characterizing the species. The objective of present study was to assess the genetic variability present in different biotypes of Ephedra growing in Pakistan using molecular markers. A total of six genotypes collected from diverse geographic zones of Pakistan were used. The DNA of all genotypes was amplified using nine randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) primers to study genetic variability at the molecular level. The dissimilarity coefficient matrix based on the data of 9 RAPD primers was used to construct a dendrogram which was then used to group the genotypes in clusters. Based on the dendrogram and dissimilarity coefficient matrix, the RAPD markers used here revealed a moderate to high level of genetic polymorphism (6 to 49%) among the genotypes. It was found that the collection of genotype accessions from Swat Valley in northwestern Pakistan was most distantly related to the other five collections. More molecular markers including functional genes and ribosomal spacer regions are suggested to find a better estimate of the genetic diversity present in Ephedra growing in Pakistan. The information provided here is useful for identifying valuable Ephedra variants which will be used for medicinal purposes and earning foreign currency.

Key words: Ephedra, Ephedrine, Molecular markers, Genetic distance, Diversity, Random amplified polymorphic DNA

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