Animal Forensic Genetics

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Animal forensic genetics, where the focus is on non-human species, is broadly divided in two: domestic species and wildlife. When traces of a domestic species are relevant to a forensic investigation the question of species identification is less important, as the material comes from either a dog or a cat for instance, but more relevant may be the identification of the actual pet. Identification of a specific animal draws on similar methods to those used in human identification by using microsatellite markers. The use of cat short tandem repeats to link a cat hair to a particular cat paved the way for similar identification of dogs. Wildlife forensic science is becoming accepted as a recognised discipline. There is growing acceptance that the illegal trade in wildlife is having devasting effects on the numbers of iconic species. Loci on the mitochondrial genome are used to identify the most likely species present. Sequencing the whole locus may not be needed if specific bases can be targeted. There can be benefits of increased sensitivity using mitochondrial loci for species testing, but occasionally there is an issue if hybrids are present. The use of massively parallel DNA sequencing has a role in the identification of the ingredients of traditional medicines where studies found protected species to be present, and a potential role in future species assignments. Non-human animal forensic testing can play a key role in investigations provided that it is performed to the same standards as all other DNA profiling processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number515
Number of pages15
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • animal forensics
  • cat STRs
  • COI
  • cyt b
  • dog STRs
  • wildlife forensics


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