Government of Nepal

Ministry of Education, Science and Technology

National Forensic Science Laboratory

A molecular genetic approach for forensic animal species identification

Previous methods of animal species identification haveutilised morphological characteristics of the sample or macro-molecular analysis such as HPLC analysis of hemoglobin orfatty acid discrimination[3–6]. Application of such protocolshas, however, failed to successfully differentiate closelyrelated species, highlighting the need for a method possessinghigher specificity and sensitivity. Analysis of genetic variationcould potentially provide definitive information regardinganimal species origin.

By analysing three regions within genomic, mitochon-drial DNA (mtDNA) and ribosomal RNA (rRNA) as poten-tial markers of differential DNA sequences, it may bepossible to detect genetic variants that aid in the efficientdiscrimination of species. Due to the minute sample size orsample degradation commonly encountered in forensic sam-ples, rRNA and mtDNA is often used in these type of studiessince individual copy number per cell of these regions areknown to be significantly higher than genomic DNA[7,8].Inaddition, ribosomal RNA is known to possess regions ofvariation between species and was therefore analysed inthese studies to potentially identify species differences.