Globalisation - Consumer Protection

The Giant Bamboo in our Palm House is easy to spot, smaller relatives are currently booming in the European Health Tea Market and are a much harder nut to crack.

What is the topic of this research?

Plant species are diverse, and diverse are the types of their use by humans. In this diversity one is easily lost, when it comes down to tell, which plant species one is dealing with, a challenge that is even accentuated by globalisation. When we want to test plants or plant products on their "authentity", we have first to clarify, what species actually are and how they emerge. In plants, this is far from trivial.


How did this idea arise?

Each week new plants and plant products enter the European market. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ayurveda or Novel Food – the potential for a personalised medicine and healing by nutrition is exciting, but poses great challenges to consumer protection. More than thousand plant species, a rising demand, a high price, and often locally limited production offer ideal conditions for food adulteration. To address this challenge, we have developed diagnostic methods based on genetic barcodes and authenticated living references in the Botanical Garden. In the meantime, we face the challenge to increase the resolution beyond the species level. We, therefore, search for new ways to follow the rise of new species, in order to develop a new generation of even more precise diagnostic assays.