ISSN 10227954, Russian Journal of Genetics, 2010, Vol. 46, No. 8, pp. 948–959. © Pleiades Publishing, Inc., 2010.
Original Russian Text © N. Haider, I. Nabulsi, Y. Kamary, 2010, published in Genetika, 2010, Vol. 46, No. 8, pp. 1067–1078.
In Syria and Lebanon, there are about 3650 vascu
lar plant species that belong to more than 130 family
and 910 genera . Syria is regarded as the origin of
many wild plant species that are distributed naturally
in the country such as olives, figs and almond, beside
many fruity forest trees and crops such as wheat, bar
ley and chickpeas. The Syrian flora is also very rich
with medical (e.g.
) and ornamental
) species .
Wild relatives of plant species can be used for the
improvement of species that have a high economic
value. Many wild plant species, however, are neglected
and not exploited for the development of new culti
vars. Examples of these are the species of the family
Orchidaceae that are still neglected in Syria in spite of
their wide distribution and high economic value. Fur
thermore, most of them are endangered of extinction,
and hence there is a great need to conserve those spe
cies. As a first step towards this would be to develop
accurate and reliable DNAbased markers for an
authentic identification of species involved.
The article is published in the original.
The Family Orchidaceae
The family Orchidaceae, popularly known as
orchids, belongs to the monocotyledons; division
Magnoliophyta, class Liliopsida and order Aspar
agales . The family includes five subfamilies on
which there is a broad agreement: Apostasioideae,
Cypripoideae, Epidendroideae, Orchidoideae and
Vanilliodeae [4–7] reported that it is the largest family
of angiosperms (ca. 10% of all flowering plants and ca.
1/3 of the monocots, ). These perennial plants have
adapted to almost every environment on earth, and
this has led to a great diversity in orchids .
The orchids family is believed to be clearly mono
phyletic and of a relatively ancient origin (probably
Early Cretaceous) as suggested by molecular clock
estimates [4, 10]. Due to the large number of those
species, the lack of a fossil record, and a historical
emphasis on characters related to floral morphology,
 believe that until recently orchid classification has
been poorly understood.
The Orchidaceae is one of the most speciesrich
plant families . It includes about 800 genera and
25000 species , most of which are in the tropical
regions. Undoubtedly, there are many other types of
orchids that have yet to be discovered . Orchidaceae
is renowned for its many diverse, even bizarre, special
Identification of Orchidaceae Species of Northern West
of Syria Based on Chloroplast DNA
, I. Nabulsi
, and Y. Kamary
Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, AECS, P.O. Box 6091, Damascus, Syria;
Agricultural Research Centre in Aleppo, Syria
Received July 22, 2009
—The plant family Orchidaceae has a great economic value (ornamental and medical uses, beside
the aromatic features). Traditionally, identification of orchid species has relied heavily on morphological fea
tures. These features, however, are either not variable enough between species or too plastic to be used for
identification at the species level. DNAbased markers could be the alternative strategy towards an accurate
and robust identification of those species. Since the chloroplast DNA has a lower level of evolution compared
to the nuclear genome, an attempt was made in this study to investigate polymorphism in the chloroplast
DNA among orchid species distributed in NorthWest region of Syria using Cleaved Amplified Polymorphic
Sequence (CAPS) technique for developing markers for the diagnosis of targeted species. CAPS analysis was
carried out on 34 orchid samples that represent all species observed in the region. Universal primers were used
to amplify targeted chloroplast regions. Generated PCR products were digested with various restriction
enzymes. CAPS results revealed high polymorphism among species examined. This polymorphism was suff
iecient for the diagnosis of all of those species apart from five species (
). Availability of such speciesspecific markers would
ensure more authentic identification of orchid species compared to morphological characters and can be
regarded as a valuable tool to guide in conservation programs of orchid species in Syria. CAPS data generated
were converted to an identification key for orchid species studied.