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Evaluation of Cordyceps sinensis Quality in 15 Production Areas Using Metabolomics and the Membership Function Method.

Cordyceps sinensis is a precious medicinal and edible fungus, which is widely used in body health care and disease prevention. The current research focuses on the comparison of metabolite characteristics between a small number of samples and lacks a comprehensive evaluation of the quality of C. sinensis in a large-scale space. In this study, LC-MS/MS, principal component analysis (PCA), hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA), and the membership function method were used to comprehensively evaluate the characteristics and quality of metabolites in 15 main producing areas of C. sinensis in China. The results showed that a total of 130 categories, 14 supercategories, and 1718 metabolites were identified. Carboxylic acids and derivatives, fatty acyls, organo-oxygen compounds, benzene and substituted derivatives, prenol lipids, and glycerophospholipids were the main components of C. sinensis . The HCA analysis and KEGG pathway enrichment analysis of 559 differentially accumulated metabolites (DAMs) showed that the accumulation models of fatty acids and conjugates and carbohydrates and carbohydrate conjugates in glycerophospholipid metabolism and arginine and proline metabolism may be one of the reasons for the quality differences in C. sinensis in different producing areas. In addition, a total of 18 biomarkers were identified and validated, which had a significant discrimination effect on the samples ( p < 0.05). Overall, YS, BR, and ZD, with the highest membership function values, are rich and balanced in nutrients. They are excellent raw materials for the development of functional foods and provide scientific guidance for consumers to nourish health care.

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