A molecular genetic approach for forensic animal species identification

C. Bellis, K. J. Ashton, L. Freney, B. Blair, L. R. Griffiths*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated potential markers within chromosomal, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and ribosomal RNA (rRNA) with the aim of developing a DNA based method to allow differentiation between animal species. Such discrimination tests may have important applications in the forensic science, agriculture, quarantine and customs fields. DNA samples from five different animal individuals within the same species for 10 species of animal (including human) were analysed. DNA extraction and quantitation followed by PCR amplification and GeneScan visualisation formed the basis of the experimental analysis. Five gene markers from three different types of genes were investigated. These included genomic markers for the β-actin and TP53 tumor suppressor gene. Mitochondrial DNA markers, designed by Bataille et al. [Forensic Sci. Int. 99 (1999) 165], examined the Cytochrome b gene and Hypervariable Displacement Loop (D-Loop) region. Finally, a ribosomal RNA marker for the 28S rRNA gene optimised by Naito et al. [J. Forensic Sci. 37 (1992) 396] was used as a possible marker for speciation. Results showed a difference of only several base pairs between all species for the β-actin and 28S markers, with the exception of Sus scrofa (pig) β-actin fragment length, which produced a significantly smaller fragment. Multiplexing of Cytochrome b and D-Loop markers gave limited species information, although positive discrimination of human DNA was evident. The most specific and discriminatory results were shown using the TP53 gene since this marker produced greatest fragment size differences between animal species studied. Sample differentiation for all species was possible following TP53 amplification, suggesting that this gene could be used as a potential animal species identifier.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-108
Number of pages10
JournalForensic Science International
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2003
Externally publishedYes


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