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The Cultural and Commercial Value of Tulsi ( Ocimum tenuiflorum L.): Multidisciplinary Approaches Focusing on Species Authentication

Bhamra, Sukvinder Kaur, Heinrich, Michael, Johnson, Mark R. D., Howard, Caroline, Slater, Adrian (2022) The Cultural and Commercial Value of Tulsi ( Ocimum tenuiflorum L.): Multidisciplinary Approaches Focusing on Species Authentication. Plants, 11 (22). Article Number 3160. ISSN 2223-7747. (doi:10.3390/plants11223160) (KAR id:98855)

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Tulsi (Holy basil, Ocimum tenuiflorum L., Lamiaceae), native to Asia, has become globalised as the cultural, cosmetic, and medicinal uses of the herb have been popularised. DNA barcoding, a molecular technique used to identify species based on short regions of DNA, can discriminate between different species and identify contaminants and adulterants. This study aimed to explore the values associated with Tulsi in the United Kingdom (UK) and authenticate samples using DNA barcoding. A mixed methods approach was used, incorporating social research (i.e., structured interviews) and DNA barcoding of Ocimum samples using the ITS and trnH-psbA barcode regions. Interviews revealed the cultural significance of Tulsi: including origins, knowledge exchange, religious connotations, and medicinal uses. With migration, sharing of plants and seeds has been seen as Tulsi plants are widely grown in South Asian (SA) households across the UK. Vouchered Ocimum specimens (n = 33) were obtained to create reference DNA barcodes which were not available in databases. A potential species substitution of O. gratissimum instead of O. tenuiflorum amongst SA participants was uncovered. Commercial samples (n = 47) were difficult to authenticate, potentially due to DNA degradation during manufacturing processes. This study highlights the cultural significance of Tulsi, despite a potential species substitution, the plant holds a prestigious place amongst SA families in the UK. DNA barcoding was a reliable way to authenticate Ocimum species.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.3390/plants11223160
Additional information: ** Article version: VoR ** From MDPI via Jisc Publications Router ** History: received 29-06-2022; collection 11-2022; accepted 15-11-2022; epub 18-11-2022. ** Licence for VoR version of this article: ** Acknowledgements: Acknowledgments: The authors would like to thank all participants who took part in the interviews. A special thanks to Alan Paton (The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew) for helping identify some Ocimum samples collected during the research period; Eike Reich (Director at CAMAG Laboratory, Switzerland), Peter Nick (Botanical Institute Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany), and Pukka Herbs for their contribution of Ocimum samples which were used for molecular analysis.
Uncontrolled keywords: Ocimum, Tulsi, Holy basil, medicinal plants, DNA barcoding, ITS, trnH-psbA
Subjects: R Medicine > RS Pharmacy and materia medica
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Medway School of Pharmacy
Funders: De Montfort University (
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Depositing User: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2022 16:00 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 18:48 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Bhamra, Sukvinder Kaur:
Heinrich, Michael:
Howard, Caroline:
Slater, Adrian:
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