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New Methods And Applications In Mitochondrial Dna Analysis

1241 words - 5 pages

New Methods and Applications in Mitochondrial DNA Analysis
Brandon Sanders
BIOL 320 6380 Forensic Biology

New Methods and Applications in Mitochondrial DNA Analysis
Mitochondria are structures within cells that function as energy mediators. Each cell contains hundreds to thousands of mitochondria. We know from this class that DNA is bundled in chromosomes inside the nucleus, but mitochondria also include a very small amount of their own DNA. This genetic material is known as ...view middle of the document...

Parts of the body that could also be suitable to collection of these specimens are hair, teeth and bones.
A nuclear DNA match of the 13 core STR loci has a high percentage that the DNA sample is from a specific individual, except if the individual in question happens to be an identical twin. However, mitochondrial DNA is inherited from a person's mother, which means all of a woman’s children, her brothers and sisters, her mother, and other maternal relatives will have matching mitochondrial DNA profiles. In this situation, mitochondrial DNA, is not a unique identifier, and the test results can only validate whether or not a known individual is excluded as the donor of the sample in question.
The number of different types of mitochondrial DNA reaches in the thousands. Even being limited with non-uniqueness, the relative population frequency of almost any type is a low percentage. In most cases, at least 99% of the population will be excluded as contributors of the sample and the pool of individuals, taken randomly, who could have contributed the sample is less than 1% of the population. Due to using mtDNA in a different way as using nuclear DNA, highlights the value of mtDNA as being a “piece of the puzzle.” This statement conveys the meaning that mtDNA is almost always used in addition to other information gathered in the theory of the crime and that evidence that is tested in this manner would rarely be the lone evidence.
The use of mitochondrial DNA does have at least one advantage, however. If either a suspect or victim has been deceased a long amount of time, or is missing or unavailable for one reason or another, only one maternal relative is needed to provide the sample to use as a reference in comparison to samples from the crime scene. This element is especially useful and a highlighted benefit for investigators working "cold cases."
In 1996, the forensic community could not have envisioned the eventual widespread and successful usage of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) as a forensic tool throughout the world. Forensic scientists were able to link the smallest hair shafts, and most sullied skeletal remains to an individual and their family for the answer to some criminal cases and also the identifying of missing persons, in the first recorded court case, Tennessee v. William Ware. MtDNA and Sanger sequencing had already been in use at the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory by 1996. Their main purpose for using these techniques was to aid them in the identifying of missing or deceased military members dating as far back as the Civil War.
Mitochondrial DNA analysis has gained popularity, and due to this fact, has begun colliding with the few technical challenges left in mtDNA analysis. In 2013 forensic science seems to be ready to embrace some new ideas for handling those challenges. One of the newest tools being used is called Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) and is poised to...

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