Short tandem repeat (STR) DNA markers are hypervariable and informative in Cannabis sativa

Implications for forensic investigations

Simon Gilmore, Rod Peakall, James Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

81 Citations (Scopus)


Short tandem repeat (STR) markers are the DNA marker of choice in forensic analysis of human DNA. Here we extend the application of STR markers to Cannabis sativa and demonstrate their potential for forensic investigations. Ninety-three individual cannabis plants, representing drug and fibre accessions of widespread origin were profiled with five STR makers. A total of 79 alleles were detected across the five loci. All but four individuals from a single drug-type accession had a unique multilocus genotype. An analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) revealed significant genetic variation among accessions, with an average of 25% genetic differentiation. By contrast, only 6% genetic difference was detected between drug and fibre crop accessions and it was not possible to unequivocally assign plants as either drug or fibre type. However, our results suggest that drug strains may typically possess lower genetic diversity than fibre strains, which may ultimately provide a means of genetic delineation. Our findings demonstrate the promise of cannabis STR markers to provide information on: (1) agronomic type, (2) the geographical origin of drug seizures, and (3) evidence of conspiracy in production of clonally propagated drug crops.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-74
Number of pages10
JournalForensic Science International
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2003
Externally publishedYes


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