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Agricultural Innovations—DNA Fingerprinting

ARC has launched a project that will help Echinacea growers capitalize on an increasing worldwide demand for this medicinally valuable herb. Because of our climate, northern growers are in a unique position to grow good quality Echinacea for root and seed production.

Alberta growers currently gross about $2 million supplying national and international markets. Due to government reclassification of herbal remedies, there is increased incentive to produce plants with consistently high concentrations of medically active ingredients. The two most important species of Echinacea (E. angustifolia and E. pallida) vary in certain morphological and biochemical characteristics, and cross-pollination can make it difficult to identify the true nature of Echinacea species. 

ARC researchers are developing and comparing the DNA fingerprints of these two species to determine whether they are genetically independent. The objective is to develop a certifying methodology for seed testing and to help the industry develop Echinacea with higher medicinal content. 

Alberta Research Council. Reproduced from Alberta Research Council 1999 Annual Report. Edmonton: Alberta Research Council, 1999 with permission from the Alberta Research Council.




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