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Sci China Life Sci. 2012 Dec;55(12):1092-9. doi: 10.1007/s11427-012-4419-3. Epub 2012 Dec 12.

Discrimination of the rare medicinal plant Dendrobium officinale based on naringenin, bibenzyl, and polysaccharides.

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Institute of Medicinal Plant Development, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing 100193, China.


The aim of this study was to establish a method for discriminating Dendrobium officinale from four of its close relatives Dendrobium chrysanthum, Dendrobium crystallinum, Dendrobium aphyllum and Dendrobium devonianum based on chemical composition analysis. We analyzed 62 samples of 24 Dendrobium species. High performance liquid chromatography analysis confirmed that the four low molecular weight compounds 4',5,7-trihydroxyflavanone (naringenin), 3,4-dihydroxy-4',5-dime-thoxybibenzyl (DDB-2), 3',4-dihydroxy-3,5'-dimethoxybibenzyl (gigantol), and 4,4'-dihydroxy-3,3',5-trimethoxybibenzy (moscatilin), were common in the genus. The phenol-sulfuric acid method was used to quantify polysaccharides, and the monosaccharide composition of the polysaccharides was determined by gas chromatography. Stepwise discriminant analysis was used to differentiate among the five closely related species based on the chemical composition analysis. This proved to be a simple and accurate approach for discriminating among these species. The results also showed that the polysaccharide content, the amounts of the four low molecular weight compounds, and the mannose to glucose ratio, were important factors for species discriminant. Therefore, we propose that a chemical analysis based on quantification of naringenin, bibenzyl, and polysaccharides is effective for identifying D. officinale.

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