Date of Award

Spring 5-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Food Science

First Advisor

Dr. Rosalee Hellberg

Second Advisor

Dr. Lilian Were Senger

Third Advisor

Dr. John Miklavcic


Ginseng (Panax sp.) is a medicinal plant root used for its purported health benefits, primarily in East Asian countries. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a significant increase in sales of dietary supplements, including ginseng supplements, to purportedly support immune health and provide other health benefits. However, this heightened demand has subsequently increased the risk of adulteration in these dietary supplements. The objective of this study was to determine the efficacy of a novel combination of DNA barcoding and multiplex PCR to identify species in ginseng supplements. A total of 50 commercial ginseng supplements containing either Panax ginseng, Panax quinquefolius, or Panax notoginseng were obtained from an online vendor. Two composite samples per product were subjected to DNA extraction followed by multiplex PCR and DNA barcoding with three genetic targets (i.e., rbcL, ITS2, and matK). Of the three genetic markers tested with DNA barcoding, ITS2 had the greatest amplification success at 74% and matK had the greatest sequencing success at 60%. DNA barcoding alone was able to identify species in 68% of products, while multiplex PCR had an overall 58% identification rate. The use of both methods resulted in a 70% species identification success rate. In addition to improving the overall identification rate, the use of both methods allowed for greater species resolution and the detection of undeclared plant species. Future research should explore the combination of DNA-based methods with chemical-based approaches to improve ginseng detection capabilities and enable the quantification of undeclared adulterants.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Available for download on Thursday, May 07, 2026