There aremany ways that genetic analysis and new technologies have helped our world. Oneway that I think is really interesting is genetic analysis in microbial forensicstudies.
With a decently low cost of preparing biochemical weapons, thetechnology field of microbial genetics has become an important field (Budowle,2005). In this essay, I will discuss how technologies in genetics help toanalyze and interpret threats from bioterrorism acts and other examples of howgenetic techniques have helped in the field of forensics. The decently low costs of preparingor taking apart bioweapons, we have begun to have a greater need to be able tointerpret microbial evidence from the types of terrorism or crime.
A major waythat scientists have done this is by the analysis of nucleic acids. A few typesof the genetic markers used for microbial forensics are single nucleotidepolymorphisms, repetitive sequences, insertions and deletions, or mobileelements. The technologies can consist of PCR of genomic sequencing.
The endgoals of these methods is to be able to figure out who was involved in thesetype of events in order to prosecute them or be able to take actions for policydecisions involved in the different nations. When these type of attacks happen,the first step is to figure out what the toxin was so they can find theappropriate cure or treatment if one exists. This helps the microbial lab totry and link the toxin with who the perpetrator may be. They then take theweapons or anything involved in the attack and check for evidence such as hair,fingerprints, or human DNA. Techniques such as culturing can play an importantrole in this assessment. This is not a good technique though because it can bevery slow. Nucleic acid analyses are being more popular for clinical diagnosis(Budowle, 2005).
Anotherinteresting article I found talks about how nonhuman DNA is becoming anotherway to prosecute individuals for crimes committed. Criminal courts have notoften dealt with animal DNA evidence in many crimes so it is up to geneticslabs to make sure the DNA is admissible. Validation of accuracy, good sampling,and evidence handling are all important in getting the criminal to accept thisevidence in the prosecution of individuals when animal evidence could help toput them away. The first case where animal DNA was tested was in 1995 when ajacket found on the scene of a crime linked the murderer to the crime becausehis cat’s hair was found on the jacket. There was no human hair on the jacket,so the cat’s hair is what secured the murderer’s fate of being guilty in thecriminal case. After studies showed that animal and human genome can becompared to each other, it was much easier to show the courts that nonhumanevidence could be just as important as human evidence (Cassidy, 2005). I havealways found genetic testing very interesting.
The fact that it can be soimportant in forensics was really interesting to me. Advances in genetictesting techniques are constantly improving our world. Terrorism has become alarge threat in our world and the ability to figure out the weapons used andtry and link it to the guilty is a really important advancement. I also agreethat any evidence in a criminal case should be used in court even if it isnonhuman DNA.
Genetic testing techniques will continue to grow and improve ourworld.