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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Identification and Individualization of Lophophora using DNA Analysis of the trnL/trnF Region and rbcL Gene

  • Author(s): Ng, AE
  • Sandoval, E
  • Murphy, TM
  • et al.

© 2016 American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Lophophora williamsii (peyote) is a small, spineless, greenish-blue cactus found in Mexico and the southwestern United States. Ingestion of the cactus can result in hallucinations due to its content of mescaline. In the United States, L. williamsii is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. In this study, we use DNA analysis of the chloroplast trnL/trnF region and chloroplast rbcL gene to identify the individuals of Lophophora. Using the rbcL gene, Lophophora specimens could be distinguished from outgroups, but species within the genus could not be distinguished. The trnL/trnF region split the Lophophora genus into several groups based on the length and substructure of an AT-rich segment of the sequence. Our results indicate that the genetic variability at the trnL/trnF locus is greater than previously recognized. Although DNA structures at the trnL/trnF region and rbcL gene do not align with the classification of Lophophora species, they can be used to aid in forensic analysis.

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