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Species Identification of Cannabis sativa Using Real-Time Quantitative PCR (qPCR),

Authors

  • Christopher E. Johnson M.S.,

    1. Graduate Group in Forensic Science, University of California, Davis, CA
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  • Amritha Premasuthan M.S.,

    1. Department of Anthropology, University of California, Davis, CA
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  • Jessica Satkoski Trask Ph.D.,

    1. Department of Anthropology, University of California, Davis, CA
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  • Sree Kanthaswamy Ph.D.

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Anthropology, University of California, Davis, CA
    2. Department of Environmental Toxicology, University of California, Davis, CA
    3. California National Primate Research Center, University of California, Davis, CA
    • Graduate Group in Forensic Science, University of California, Davis, CA
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  • Presented at the 2010 UC Davis Graduate Group in Forensic Science Student Seminar, December 10, in Davis, CA as part of the program's requirement.

  • Supported by a National Institute of Justice grant (2008-DN-BX-K288) to Dr. Sree Kanthaswamy.

Additional information and reprint requests:

Sree Kanthaswamy, Ph.D.

Department of Anthropology

University of California

One Shields Avenue

Davis, CA 95616

E-mail: skanthaswamy@ucdavis.edu

Abstract

Most narcotics-related cases in the United States involve Cannabis sativa. Material is typically identified based on the cystolithic hairs on the leaves and with chemical tests to identify of the presence of cannabinoids. Suspect seeds are germinated into a viable plant so that morphological and chemical tests can be conducted. Seed germination, however, causes undue analytical delays. DNA analyses that involve the chloroplast and nuclear genomes have been developed for identification of C. sativa materials, but they require several nanograms of template DNA. Using the trnL 3′ exon-trnF intragenic spacer regions within the C. sativa chloroplast, we have developed a real-time quantitative PCR assay that is capable of identifying picogram amounts of chloroplast DNA for species determination of suspected C. sativa material. This assay provides forensic science laboratories with a quick and reliable method to identify an unknown sample as C. sativa.

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