A method based on Sequence-Characterised Amplified Regions (SCARs) was developed from Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA markers (RAPDs) specific for Arnica montana L., Bixa orellana L., Calendula officinalis L., Carthamus tinctorius L., Crocus vernus L. (Hill), Curcuma longa L. and Hemerocallis sp., in order to detect these common bulking agents in commercial saffron (Crocus sativus). The method enabled the unequivocal detection of low amounts (up to 1%) of each adulterant, allowing the preemptive rejection of suspect samples. Its enforcement limits the number of samples to be subjected to further evaluation with pharmacognostic or phytochemical analyses, especially when multiple batches have to be evaluated in a short time. The dimension of the amplicons is suitable for the analysis of degraded DNA obtained from dried, stored, processed and finely ground commercial material. Proper SCAR markers may represent a fast, sensitive, reliable and low-cost screening method for the authentication of dried commercial saffron material.
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