A molecular identification system for grasses

A novel technology for forensic botany

J. Ward, R. Peakall, S. R. Gilmore, J. Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Our present inability to rapidly, accurately and cost-effectively identify trace botanical evidence remains the major impediment to the routine application of forensic botany. Grasses are amongst the most likely plant species encountered as forensic trace evidence and have the potential to provide links between crime scenes and individuals or other vital crime scene information. We are designing a molecular DNA-based identification system for grasses consisting of several PCR assays that, like a traditional morphological taxonomic key, provide criteria that progressively identify an unknown grass sample to a given taxonomic rank. In a prior study of DNA sequences across 20 phylogenetically representative grass species, we identified a series of potentially informative indels in the grass mitochondrial genome. In this study we designed and tested five PCR assays spanning these indels and assessed the feasibility of these assays to aid identification of unknown grass samples. We confirmed that for our control set of 20 samples, on which the design of the PCR assays was based, the five primer combinations produced the expected results. Using these PCR assays in a 'blind test', we were able to identify 25 unknown grass samples with some restrictions. Species belonging to genera represented in our control set were all correctly identified to genus with one exception. Similarly, genera belonging to tribes in the control set were correctly identified to the tribal level. Finally, for those samples for which neither the tribal or genus specific PCR assays were designed, we could confidently exclude these samples from belonging to certain tribes and genera. The results confirmed the utility of the PCR assays and the feasibility of developing a robust full-scale usable grass identification system for forensic purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-131
Number of pages11
JournalForensic Science International
Volume152
Issue number2-3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2005
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Botany
Poaceae
Technology
Polymerase Chain Reaction
Crime
Mitochondrial Genome
Costs and Cost Analysis

Cite this

Ward, J. ; Peakall, R. ; Gilmore, S. R. ; Robertson, J. / A molecular identification system for grasses : A novel technology for forensic botany. In: Forensic Science International. 2005 ; Vol. 152, No. 2-3. pp. 121-131.
@article{3881a0bf4566441995bb61b6557d8f78,
title = "A molecular identification system for grasses: A novel technology for forensic botany",
abstract = "Our present inability to rapidly, accurately and cost-effectively identify trace botanical evidence remains the major impediment to the routine application of forensic botany. Grasses are amongst the most likely plant species encountered as forensic trace evidence and have the potential to provide links between crime scenes and individuals or other vital crime scene information. We are designing a molecular DNA-based identification system for grasses consisting of several PCR assays that, like a traditional morphological taxonomic key, provide criteria that progressively identify an unknown grass sample to a given taxonomic rank. In a prior study of DNA sequences across 20 phylogenetically representative grass species, we identified a series of potentially informative indels in the grass mitochondrial genome. In this study we designed and tested five PCR assays spanning these indels and assessed the feasibility of these assays to aid identification of unknown grass samples. We confirmed that for our control set of 20 samples, on which the design of the PCR assays was based, the five primer combinations produced the expected results. Using these PCR assays in a 'blind test', we were able to identify 25 unknown grass samples with some restrictions. Species belonging to genera represented in our control set were all correctly identified to genus with one exception. Similarly, genera belonging to tribes in the control set were correctly identified to the tribal level. Finally, for those samples for which neither the tribal or genus specific PCR assays were designed, we could confidently exclude these samples from belonging to certain tribes and genera. The results confirmed the utility of the PCR assays and the feasibility of developing a robust full-scale usable grass identification system for forensic purposes.",
keywords = "Forensic botany, Grasses, Indels, Mitochondrial genome, Molecular identification system, PCR assay",
author = "J. Ward and R. Peakall and Gilmore, {S. R.} and J. Robertson",
year = "2005",
month = "6",
day = "10",
doi = "10.1016/j.forsciint.2004.07.015",
language = "English",
volume = "152",
pages = "121--131",
journal = "Forensic Science",
issn = "0379-0738",
publisher = "Elsevier Ireland Ltd",
number = "2-3",

}

A molecular identification system for grasses : A novel technology for forensic botany. / Ward, J.; Peakall, R.; Gilmore, S. R.; Robertson, J.

In: Forensic Science International, Vol. 152, No. 2-3, 10.06.2005, p. 121-131.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - A molecular identification system for grasses

T2 - A novel technology for forensic botany

AU - Ward, J.

AU - Peakall, R.

AU - Gilmore, S. R.

AU - Robertson, J.

PY - 2005/6/10

Y1 - 2005/6/10

N2 - Our present inability to rapidly, accurately and cost-effectively identify trace botanical evidence remains the major impediment to the routine application of forensic botany. Grasses are amongst the most likely plant species encountered as forensic trace evidence and have the potential to provide links between crime scenes and individuals or other vital crime scene information. We are designing a molecular DNA-based identification system for grasses consisting of several PCR assays that, like a traditional morphological taxonomic key, provide criteria that progressively identify an unknown grass sample to a given taxonomic rank. In a prior study of DNA sequences across 20 phylogenetically representative grass species, we identified a series of potentially informative indels in the grass mitochondrial genome. In this study we designed and tested five PCR assays spanning these indels and assessed the feasibility of these assays to aid identification of unknown grass samples. We confirmed that for our control set of 20 samples, on which the design of the PCR assays was based, the five primer combinations produced the expected results. Using these PCR assays in a 'blind test', we were able to identify 25 unknown grass samples with some restrictions. Species belonging to genera represented in our control set were all correctly identified to genus with one exception. Similarly, genera belonging to tribes in the control set were correctly identified to the tribal level. Finally, for those samples for which neither the tribal or genus specific PCR assays were designed, we could confidently exclude these samples from belonging to certain tribes and genera. The results confirmed the utility of the PCR assays and the feasibility of developing a robust full-scale usable grass identification system for forensic purposes.

AB - Our present inability to rapidly, accurately and cost-effectively identify trace botanical evidence remains the major impediment to the routine application of forensic botany. Grasses are amongst the most likely plant species encountered as forensic trace evidence and have the potential to provide links between crime scenes and individuals or other vital crime scene information. We are designing a molecular DNA-based identification system for grasses consisting of several PCR assays that, like a traditional morphological taxonomic key, provide criteria that progressively identify an unknown grass sample to a given taxonomic rank. In a prior study of DNA sequences across 20 phylogenetically representative grass species, we identified a series of potentially informative indels in the grass mitochondrial genome. In this study we designed and tested five PCR assays spanning these indels and assessed the feasibility of these assays to aid identification of unknown grass samples. We confirmed that for our control set of 20 samples, on which the design of the PCR assays was based, the five primer combinations produced the expected results. Using these PCR assays in a 'blind test', we were able to identify 25 unknown grass samples with some restrictions. Species belonging to genera represented in our control set were all correctly identified to genus with one exception. Similarly, genera belonging to tribes in the control set were correctly identified to the tribal level. Finally, for those samples for which neither the tribal or genus specific PCR assays were designed, we could confidently exclude these samples from belonging to certain tribes and genera. The results confirmed the utility of the PCR assays and the feasibility of developing a robust full-scale usable grass identification system for forensic purposes.

KW - Forensic botany

KW - Grasses

KW - Indels

KW - Mitochondrial genome

KW - Molecular identification system

KW - PCR assay

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=20544434098&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.forsciint.2004.07.015

DO - 10.1016/j.forsciint.2004.07.015

M3 - Article

VL - 152

SP - 121

EP - 131

JO - Forensic Science

JF - Forensic Science

SN - 0379-0738

IS - 2-3

ER -