Unlocking the potential of genomic technologies for wildlife forensics


  • Much of my research focuses on the development and application of DNA forensic methods to wildlife crime investigation. The move towards the use of genome-wide approaches to marker discovery has come through involvement in FishPopTrace and SturSNiP projects, as well as ongoing conservation genetic work at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.

Rob Ogden, Fax: +44 131 3140376; E-mail: rob.ogden@tracenetwork.org


Wildlife crime enforcement is increasingly relying on genetic techniques to deliver forensic evidence to investigators. Forensic DNA applications require robust molecular markers, informative at the level of the species, population and individual, in a wide range of taxa. Within species, single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have long been recognized as offering many potential advantages over traditional microsatellite markers; however, the best methods for their discovery, validation and genotyping in non-model species remain an area of novel research and much discussion. The potential availability to wildlife geneticists of deep sequencing platforms and high-density genotyping arrays appears to promise an almost infinite source of variable markers for determining the geographic or individual origin of a sample. This study examines the drivers for developing SNP genotyping panels in wildlife forensics and their potential as applied tools, before examining a range of strategies that are being employed to try to unlock this potential and address current questions in wildlife conservation and enforcement.