Herbal drug authentication is an important task in traditional medicine; however, it is challenged by the limitations of traditional authentication methods and the lack of trained experts. DNA barcoding is conspicuous in almost all areas of the biological sciences and has already been added to the British pharmacopeia and Chinese pharmacopeia for routine herbal drug authentication. However, DNA barcoding for the Korean pharmacopeia still requires significant improvements. Here, we present a DNA barcode reference library for herbal drugs in the Korean pharmacopeia and developed a species identification engine named KP-IDE to facilitate the adoption of this DNA reference library for the herbal drug authentication. Using taxonomy records, specimen records, sequence records, and reference records, KP-IDE can identify an unknown specimen. Currently, there are 6,777 taxonomy records, 1,054 specimen records, 30,744 sequence records (ITS2 and psbA-trnH) and 285 reference records. Moreover, 27 herbal drug materials were collected from the Seoul Yangnyeongsi herbal medicine market to give an example for real herbal drugs authentications. Our study demonstrates the prospects of the DNA barcode reference library for the Korean pharmacopeia and provides future directions for the use of DNA barcoding for authenticating herbal drugs listed in other modern pharmacopeias.
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