Visualising DNA transfer: Latent DNA detection using Diamond Dye

Jessica Champion, Roland A.H. van Oorschot, Adrian Linacre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A central question is ‘how did DNA get there’? To help answer this, we visually monitored and recorded DNA transfer from one substrate to another. When an individual touches a substrate, traces of their DNA are transferred (primary/direct) which can then subsequently be transferred to a second substrate (secondary/indirect). Currently DNA transfer and how much remains can only be determined by collecting the biological material from the substrate, isolating the DNA and quantifying the amount recovered. However, Diamond™ Dye (DD) enables such DNA transfer events to be visualised by monitoring the movement of cellular material. We examined primary and secondary DNA transfer using aluminium as a primary substrate with cotton, polyester, aluminium and plastic as secondary substrates and four contact types between two substrates (passive, pressure, friction and friction with pressure). Participants pressed their index finger against the aluminium for 15 s and then DD was applied to the area of contact; cellular material was detected via a fluorescence microscope. Contact between that substrate and a second substrate was performed, using one of the four contact types. After this contact between substrates each was viewed microscopically and transfer of cellular material was recorded. Cellular material could be recorded as having transferred from one substrate to another. Substrate and contact type had an effect on the extent DNA transfers. DNA transferred at a high rate with aluminium as a primary substrate and cotton, polyester and aluminium as secondary substrates when pressure with friction was applied. This information expands our understanding of how DNA transfers and which factors affect it, thus assisting greatly with activity level reporting as to how DNA came to be where it was found.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-231
Number of pages3
JournalForensic Science International: Genetics Supplement Series
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • Diamond Dye
  • DNA transfer
  • Touch DNA
  • Visualising DNA


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