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Paleogenomic annotation of historical Cinchona bark samples across time and space


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Maximum recovery of genomic DNA from bark collections to resolve the evolutionary history of the Fever tree.

Paleogenomic annotation of historical Cinchona bark samples across time and space.


The Cinchona tree is original from the Eastern slopes of the Andes.

The source of quinine for treatment of malaria. Discovered c. 1630, still remains an important antimalarial drug today.

Due to its economic importance, the Cinchona tree was heavily harvested and exported to Europe and their tropical colonies establishing plantations.

Material and methods

Kew’s Cinchona bark specimens (1777-present) was collected for the purpose of pharmaceutical testing and breeding experiments. South American barks represent forests that no longer exist due to over-harvesting.
We tested four DNA extraction methods: CTAB, Plant Mini Kit DNeasy, and two phenol-chloroform modifications with longer lysis incubation times and PVP 1%.


Measurable DNA content, yielding up to 2ng/uL.
Degraded but useable with aDNA apporaches.
Reduced alkaloid presence.

Extra - chemical analysis

The historical chemical annotation of alkaloid content of the Cinchona bark is comparable to today’s HPLC technology.
The two major alkaloids (quinine and cinchonine) and total content alkaloid are statistically significant for linear correlation between Howard’s and HPLC analysis.
The trend: historical quantification are higher than modern ones. Degradation? Over-estimation?

Museum and herbaria collections are a valuable source of biodiversity for evolution, authentication, drug discovery, and other studies.

Understand how the production of quinine and related alkaloids is regulated within and between species.
Determine changes in the distribution of Cinchona forest over 200 years.
Trace the historic Cinchona commercialization and plantation routes.
Search for the best quinine-producing species

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