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DNA metabarcoding to ensure the traceability of natural resources

Have you ever heard about DNA metabarcoding ? You might have already heard about barcoding. Actually, barcoding focuses on one specific organism whereas metabarcoding is used to determine species composition within a sample.

The importance of natural resource traceability

To ensure transparency and traceability, plant raw material authentication is essential to certify that we use the right plant species and we do not mix it with other species. In accordance with the Nagoya Protocol, scientific studies have already been done to protect our planet and to avoid all risks to the health of consumers.

Nowadays, quality controls of natural products and raw materials are mostly made with botanical (based on the recognition of morphological characters) and chemical analysis. It is compulsory to perform these tests to release new products on the market. For plant authentication, these types of analysis have the advantage of being affordable and most of the time, efficient. The main disadvantage is that morphological identification and chemistry can fail to precisely identify some plant species. Indeed, to perform morphological identifications and chemical analysis, one must have respectively entire plant organs, and in the database a reference for the same plant part with the same level of maturation compared to the tested sample. Moreover, there is often only the plant species of interest in the database and the closely related species are not available.


Cream with a plant on top of it, small water drop on the plant and there is the earth inside


DNA barcoding advantages

To improve these results, the use of plant DNA can be of great help because every plant species has a specific genetic signature. In addition, the genetic database is a scientific worldwide database, which allows a scientist to compare a DNA sequence to a very large amount of data that gather closely related species as well as known adulterants (contaminants).

The increase of genomic resources has permitted the development of specific molecular biology technology, such as the barcoding method, to find genetic profiles and the species of a sample. The metabarcoding method has been developed to allow us to sequence multiple sequences at the same time, and thus find the plant composition of mixed samples. This emphasises that genetic analysis is an essential element for proving authentication and traceability of natural resources.


DNA & Cosmetics consortium

At Sederma, we work hard to guarantee safety, traceability and authenticity of our plant raw materials. Sederma is involved in a strong and unique collaboration with the consortium DNA & Cosmetics, the first cosmetic consortium to promote the traceability of natural resources.

Leaf with a small water drop on the plant and there is the earth inside


This cooperative project was born in 2018 under the impulse of DNA Gensee which wanted to gather competitors, brands and ingredient suppliers with a common wish to go further in safety and traceability of their sourcing while working towards sustainability. Seven companies (Laboratoires Clarins, Codif Technologie Naturelle, Greentech, L’Oréal Research & Innovation, LVMH Recherche, Groupe Nuxe and Sederma) decided to collaborate in order to progress on the applicative optimisation of DNA tools and to create a genetic database of plant and algae signatures of interest within the cosmetic industry.

This unique cooperative consortium meets 3 out of 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by United Nations:
- goal 3: good health and well-being. DNA analysis allows us to better secure plant raw material supply and to prevent risks for the health of consumers
- goal 12: responsible consumption and production. DNA analysis allows us to better secure plant raw material sourcing and to promote sustainable production
- goal 17: partnerships. DNA analysis allows us to better secure plant raw material sourcing and to promote sustainable production

Active ingredients issued from Plant Cell Culture are perfect examples of traceability and transparency of natural raw material sourcing as the sample was perfectly identified.

Published by

  • Alex Saunois Research and Development Director
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