Forensic DNA Identification of Animal-derived Trace Evidence: Tools for Linking Victims and Suspects

Halverson, Joy L.; Basten, Christopher
August 2005
Croatian Medical Journal;2005, Vol. 46 Issue 4, p598
Academic Journal
Aim To evaluate the population substructure of purebred dogs and cats in order to estimate the true significance of a microsatellite-based DNA match for use as evidence in legal proceedings. The high frequency of animal hair as a forensic evidence submission necessitates the development of mitochondrial analysis tools as well. Methods Random samples from a large convenience collection of veterinary diagnostic submissions from the western USA were used, as well as contributed samples of unrelated purebred cats and dogs. Dogs (n=558)were profiled with 17 microsatellites and the data evaluated for Hardy Weinberg and linkage equilibrium. The mitochondrial control region (D loop)of dogs (n=348) and cats (n=167) was sequenced to determine the haplotype distribution. Results Domestic dogs in the western United States showed significant population substructure with marked associations within loci but no disequilibrium between loci. A population substructure coefficient θ=0.11 is recommended for calculating genotype frequencies. Mitochondrial haplotypes in cats and dogs show less variation than human haplotypes. Conclusion Although population substructure occurs in domestic dogs (and can be inferred in cats), the discriminatory power of microsatellite analysis is dramatic with even partial DNA types, strongly supporting the prosecution of perpetrators in five discussed cases. Mitochondrial analysis, while less powerful, adds a layer of evidence in four discussed cases.


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