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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Identification of an EcoRI restriction site for a rapid and precise determination of beta-asarone-free Acorus calamus cytotypes.

Calamus (Acorus calamus L., Araceae) is an aromatic herb, indigenous to Central Asia and Eastern Europe. The fragrant oils obtained by alcoholic extraction of the rhizome are mainly used in the pharmaceutical and oenological industries. Nevertheless, the occurrence of beta-asarone [(Z)-1,2,4-trimethoxy-5-prop-1-enyl-benzene] limits the possibility of its use due to the carcinogenic properties of this compound. The aim of this work was to identify a diploid beta-asarone-free A. calamus by using chemical and molecular approaches. For these purposes alcoholic extracts of both diploid and triploid A. calamus were analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and comparison of the 700 bp sequence of the non-transcribed spacer (NTS) in the 5S-rRNA gene was also performed. Alcoholic extracts of the triploid A. calamus were characterized by a higher percentage of beta-asarone (11%), which was the main compound, followed by higher percentages of camphene (2.27%), E-beta-ocimene (3.28%), camphor (1.54%), calarene (1.42%), alpha-selinene (5.02%) and tau-cadinol (2.00%), when compared to the diploid A. calamus. The latter had higher percentages of iso-shyobunone (8.62%), beta-sesquiphellandrene (3.28%), preiso calamendiol (22.81%) and acorone (26.33%), and completely lacked of beta-asarone. The 5S-rRNA spacer region of both diploid and triploid A. calamus were amplified by PCR using a pair of primers located at the 3' and 5' ends of the coding sequence of 5S-rRNA gene. The resulting PCR products (about 700 bp) were gel purified, subcloned into pGEM-T Easy vector and sequenced. By aligning the isolated nucleotide sequences of the two varieties and the sequences from different A. calamus chemotypes present in Genbank, sequence diversities were found in the spacer region. Furthermore, the PCR products were digested by using EcoRI. The restriction profile of the spacer domain resulted different for the two cytotypes. Along with chemical analysis of alcoholic extracts, sequence analysis coupled to restriction mapping was demonstrated to represent a powerful tool to distinguish the A. calamus diploid cytotype from the others. The security and effective usage of the diploid beta-asarone-free A. calamus was also discussed.[1]


  1. Identification of an EcoRI restriction site for a rapid and precise determination of beta-asarone-free Acorus calamus cytotypes. Bertea, C.M., Azzolin, C.M., Bossi, S., Doglia, G., Maffei, M.E. Phytochemistry (2005) [Pubmed]
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