Forensic DNA Identification Of Domestic Animals

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As most people know, DNA is the heredity material in humans. What some people may not know is that DNA is the heredity material in all living organisms. DNA is mostly found in the nucleus of the cell, which is enclosed with a nuclear membrane. Contained within the membrane is the majority of the cell’s genetic material. The main role of DNA in the cell is the long-term storage of information. DNA was first discovered in 1869 by Friedrich Niescher in his attempt to research the key components of white blood cells. Continuing the study of what is now known as DNA, Albrecht Kossel a biochemist, was the first to isolate the five nucleotide bases of adenine, cytosine, guanine, thymine and uracil. These are the building blocks of DNA and RNA. Starting in 1984 scientists starting using DNA to trace back roots of domestic animals. The paper will discuss the timeline along with the advancements in technology that has helped with this ever growing field of Forensic Biology.

Early Studies

Within the last 11 years there has been an increase in the interest of domestic animal aDNA as sequencing technologies suitable for paleogenomics have become increasingly powerful. In 1984 the very first aDNA study was published in Nature Research Journal by Russell Higuchi, Barbara Bowman, Mary Freiberger & Allan C. Wilson. The basis of this study was to see if DNA could survive and could be recovered from extinct remains. Not only could DNA be recovered, but two pieces that contained mitochondrial DNA were sequenced. From this extraction, the scientists could determine that quagga, which is an extinct African equid, is related to the domestic horse.

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In the late 80’s, the introduction of PCR amplification elevated aDNA to entirely new level, which prompted Svante Paabo to publish a series of seminal papers in 1988 and 1989. Around the same time, Erika Hagelberg and her colleagues of the University of Oxford, proved that aDNA could be retrieved, amplified and analyzed from hard tissue such as bone. During the course of their research, mtDNA was retrieved from a domestic pig bone that was 445 years old. This verified that endogenous DNA could be amplified from hard tissue. To add to the discoveries, a French group was able to extract and analyze DNA from mammalian teeth. These two discoveries would prove to be a crucial technological breakthrough for archeogentics in domestic animals.

During 1996, Jillian Bailey and her colleagues were the first scientist to recover and analyze ancient DNA from an extinct ancestor of a domestic species. In 2001, another study validated these results with additional ancient mtDNA CR sequence data. This postulated a scenario where European aurochs didn’t contribute to the gene pool of domestic cattle. The same group later used nuclear DNA sequence and was able to disprove their original theory. In 2001, the first study of ancient DNA in horses was published. The scientists were able to use modern equine mtDNA CR data with sequences from pre-domestic permafrost specimens and Viking-era bones to show a substantial retention of diverse ancestral maternal lines. From these results, the authors were able to reach the conclusion that domestication was an ongoing process. From the late Chalcolithic period through the Bronze Age, the innovation for catching, restraining and raising wild-caught horses spread across Central Asia.

In 2002, Jennifer Leonard and her associates, published an inclusive domestic dog aDNA study. By using South American and Alaskan species, the group was able to determine that ancient American and Eurasian domestic dogs share a common origin from Old World gray wolves. The mtDNA CR sequence analysis supported this theory.

Technological Advances

The first generation sequencing method, the Sanger method, was eventually replaced with the NGS method. This refers to next generation sequencing which provides deep, high-throughput, in-parallel of DNA sequencing. The availability of high-throughput sequencing has been used commercially since 2005. Between the years of 2007 and 2019 there has been about a 100,000 fold reduction in the per-megabase cost of DNA sequencing. The current commercial HTS technology is based on massively parallel sequencing-by-synthesis of relatively short DNA segments. This type of technology is specifically suited to fragment DNA molecules from archaeological and museum specimens.

One of the first HTS contemplates directly relevant to domestic animals was a specialized tour de force which pushed the time span for recovery of aDNA and reproduction of paleogenomes past 500 thousand years ago to the beginning periods of the Middle Pleistocene. Orlando and associates had the ability to produce a 1.12× inclusion genome from a horse bone unearthed from permafrost at the Thistle Creek site in north-western Canada and dated to around 560–780 thousand years ago. Utilizing this Middle Pleistocene horse genome related to another antiquated genome from a 43 thousand years ago Late Pleistocene horse, and genome sequence data from Przewalski's horse, the donkey and a scope of present day horses, these authors indicated that every single surviving equid shared a typical progenitor at any rate 4 million years prior, which is double the recently acknowledged age for the Equus variety. By concentrating on genomic districts displaying unusual patterns of mutations in domestic horse, it was conceivable to likely distinguish qualities that may have been dependent upon human-interceded selection during and after domestication.

The sources of the domestic canine and the dispersal of canines over the globe during the Late Pleistocene and Holocene periods have been incredibly antagonistic, especially as population genetic, archaeogenetic and paleogenomic informational indexes have aggregated during the most recent two decades. Once more, similar to the Thistle Creek horse bone, few key subfossil examples have given basic paleogenomic proof concerning the developmental starting points of domestic canines and their hereditary associations with Late Pleistocene Eurasian wolf populaces. Pontus Skoglund and partners had the option to create a low inclusion atomic genome from a 35 thousand year old wolf from the Taimyr Peninsula in northern Siberia. Examination of this Taimyr example with WGS information from present day canids indicated that this antiquated wolf had a place with a populace that was hereditarily near the precursor of modern gray wolves and canines. The outcomes upheld a situation whereby the progenitors of domestic dogs diverged from wolves by 27 thousand years ago, with domestication occurring at some point before that occurrence. What's more, this examination gave convincing proof that high-latitude dog breeds, for example, the Siberian Husky, follow a portion of their lineage back to the extinct wolf populace represented by the Taimyr animal.

Antoine Fages and associates dissected a huge genome-wide arrangement data index produced from 278 domestic equid subfossils that covered the last 6000 years. A remarkable result from this work is solid ground for the hypothesis that the approach of horticultural motorization and mechanized transport prompted a decline in genomic diversity of modern horses contrasted with populaces that existed preceding the Industrial Revolution. Inspecting examples of genomic variety further back in time uncovered that the impact of Persian-determined heredities expanded after the developments of Islamic societies in the second half of the early centuries of the second millennium. What's more, assessment of positive choice utilizing populace branch statistics demonstrated that by the early centuries of the second millennium there was proof for huge changes in genes that regulate skeletal advancement and anatomy. At last, this examination revealed two more horse heredities that existed during the fifth millennium before the present era at the northeastern and southwestern furthest points of Eurasia, but which became extinct with minimal genetic contributions to modern domestic horses.


Listing the studies that have taken place could go on and on. The main point of this paper is to show how DNA can be used to trace the heredity of animals that are now domesticated. During the previous decade progress in archaeogenetics has been driven by marvelous innovation improvements in genomics and other fields. There have additionally been significant advancements in different regions of biomolecular archaeology exploration, which helps with the understanding of the genetic history and ongoing evolution of domestic animals.

The result of forensic testing on domestic animals, will help in the development of human medicine. “There is an awareness of the problem that we're facing in risk to both human and animal health from zoonotic pathogens such as anthrax. Understanding the genes involved and creating a wider array of genomic tools is going to allow us to do the things that we need to do to protect not only the animals, but the human population as well.” ('The Value of Sequencing Domestic Animal Genomes', 2002)


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  5. Higuchi, R., Bowman, B., Freiberger, M., Ryder, O. A., & Wilson, A. C. (n.d.). DNA sequences from the quagga, an extinct member of the horse family. Retrieved from
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  7. Mchugo, G. P., Dover, M. J., & Machugh, D. E. (2019). Unlocking the origins and biology of domestic animals using ancient DNA and paleogenomics. BMC Biology, 17(1). doi: 10.1186/s12915-019-0724-7
  8. The discovery of DNA. (2018, February 26). Retrieved from
  9. What is DNA? - Genetics Home Reference - NIH. (n.d.). Retrieved from
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Forensic DNA Identification Of Domestic Animals. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 30, 2024, from
“Forensic DNA Identification Of Domestic Animals.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
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