science is more than just what you see on television and read in criminal novels.
There are dozens of people who are involved in a criminal investigation and
there’s a significant need for individuals with specialized skills and
training. With so many sub-disciplines to choose from, the field of forensic
science offers a virtually limitless number of career paths to students who are
interested in the mechanics of crime-solving.
One such developing
field is Forensic Molecular Genetics. The first use of DNA in forensic science
was to identify the perpetrator of a murder in 1985, since then, forensic
science has witnessed dramatic changes in the field of human identification. Over
the past 25 years advances in DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) technology have led
to spectacularly precise forensic identification techniques. Current work in
forensic genetics is pushing these technologies even further by analyzing
extremely damaged DNA and by introducing RNA (ribonucleic acid) techniques to
forensics. Currently, millions of samples from blood, semen, hair and tissues etc
are analyzed to determine their origin.
traditional forensic molecular genetics has been oriented towards using human
DNA in criminal investigation and civil court cases, it currently presents a
much wider application range. At present forensic molecular genetics is
progressively incorporating the analysis of nonhuman genetic materials such as
other animal species, plants or microorganism to a greater extent, providing
ancillary evidence in criminalistics in cases such as animal attacks,
trafficking of species, bioterrorism and biocrimes, and identification of
fraudulent food composition, among many others.
exception of monozygotic twins, every individual has a different genome. Forensic
molecular genetics primarily uses DNA Fingerprinting for the production of a
unique DNA profile for every person. PCR enhances the process by helping in the
amplification of minutest of DNA samples. Further advancements include new DNA
isolation methods, Y-chromosome haplogrouping (indicating “male” DNA in a mixed
sample seen usually in sexual assault cases), mitochondrial DNA analysis (which
is inherited along the same maternal line), analysis of SNPs in place of STRs
for degraded samples obtained from disaster sites, use of automated sequencers
and DNA databases etc. New genetic markers being tested include mRNA and miRNAs,
as they are much smaller in size, thus less prone to degradation.
relying on these methods pedigree analysis, determination of
paternity/maternity, victim and suspect identification, and most importantly
exoneration of the innocent becomes highly accurate and ensures justice for