Caister Academic Press

PCR in Forensic Science

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A resource on PCR for forensic science. DNA profiling (DNA typing, genetic fingerprinting, DNA testing) is a technique used by forensic scientists to identify someone based on their DNA profile. PCR can be used as a tool in genetic fingerprinting. This technology can identify any one person from millions of others. For example, tiny samples of DNA isolated from a crime scene can be compared with DNA from suspects, or compared with a DNA database. Such procedures can identify or rule out suspects during a police investigation. PCR-based DNA fingerprinting can also be used in parental testing in which an individual is compared with their close relatives and the actual biological father of a child can be confirmed or ruled out. DNA testing can also confirm the biological parents of an adopted child.

The real-time fluorescence-based quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) has become the benchmark technology for the detection of nucleic acids in every area of microbiology, biomedical research, biotechnology and in forensic applications (Bustin et al 2012 An Introduction to the real-time polymerase chain reaction qPCR).

The small footprint, easy liquid handling and high-throughput enables the PCR microchip to find promising applications in forensic analysis (Sun et al Circullar Ferrofluid-Driven PCR Microchips).

PCR methods based on mitochondrial genes have been used in forensics because of their high copy number per cell, lack of recombination, and matrilineal inheritance (Santo Domingo et al Microbial Source Tracking: Current and Future Molecular Tools in Microbial Water Quality Forensics)

Further reading