Review: Domestic animal forensic genetics - Biological evidence, genetic markers, analytical approaches and challenges

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21 Scopus citations


This review highlights the importance of domestic animal genetic evidence sources, genetic testing, markers and analytical approaches as well as the challenges this field is facing in view of the de facto 'gold standard' human DNA identification. Because of the genetic similarity between humans and domestic animals, genetic analysis of domestic animal hair, saliva, urine, blood and other biological material has generated vital investigative leads that have been admitted into a variety of court proceedings, including criminal and civil litigation. Information on validated short tandem repeat, single nucleotide polymorphism and mitochondrial DNA markers and public access to genetic databases for forensic DNA analysis is becoming readily available. Although the fundamental aspects of animal forensic genetic testing may be reliable and acceptable, animal forensic testing still lacks the standardized testing protocols that human genetic profiling requires, probably because of the absence of monetary support from government agencies and the difficulty in promoting cooperation among competing laboratories. Moreover, there is a lack in consensus about how to best present the results and expert opinion to comply with court standards and bear judicial scrutiny. This has been the single most persistent challenge ever since the earliest use of domestic animal forensic genetic testing in a criminal case in the mid-1990s. Crime laboratory accreditation ensures that genetic test results have the courts' confidence. Because accreditation requires significant commitments of effort, time and resources, the vast majority of animal forensic genetic laboratories are not accredited nor are their analysts certified forensic examiners. The relevance of domestic animal forensic genetics in the criminal justice system is undeniable. However, further improvements are needed in a wide range of supporting resources, including standardized quality assurance and control protocols for sample handling, evidence testing, statistical analysis and reporting that meet the rules of scientific acceptance, reliability and human forensic identification standards.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)473-484
Number of pages12
JournalAnimal Genetics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015


  • DNA evidence
  • food traceability and testing
  • forensic science
  • non-human DNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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