STAFF REPORT KHI: Pakistani scientists have developed a “genetic barcode” system which could be used for accurate and quick identification of medicinally important halophytes (salt tolerant plants) across the world.

The scientists from the Dr A Q Khan Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (KIBGE) at Karachi University have collected different species of genus, Suaeda or Sea Blite commonly found in Asia.They also gathered different samples from across Pakistan and targeted specific chloroplast gene with the hope of finding a similar DNA sequence to develop a potential bar code common in halophytes.The team examined Suaeda, fruticosa, S. monoica, S. acuminata, S. heterophylla and S. oluf species. They studied three chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) regions rbcL, matK and psbB, psbN, psbT and one nuclear DNA (nrDNA) region or Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS) was tested for the identification of Suaeda species.

To develop the barcode, the scholars studied 11 fresh and herbarium samples of five different species of Suaeda.

The samples were collected from Uthal and Hub, Balochistan, and five different cities of Sindh and Punjab.

The results showed similarity in rbcl and ITS region of plants as they were conserved or common in all species of Suaeda and declared as DNA barcode for quick identification.

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