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Forensic Genetics in Indonesia STR

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In Indonesian society, people often use a dichotomy between “pribumi” or native and “pendatang” or migrants. “Pribumi” means the original settlers while “pendatang” are foreigners. This dichotomy often creates racism and tension between groups in the society. However, a research on human genome found all Indonesians are migrants. Indonesian people are a mix of different genetic groups of Homo sapiens who travelled from Africa in waves spanning tens of thousands years via different routes to the archipelago.

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Forensic genetics derives from a late offshoot of the big tree resulting from the conjunction between legal medicine and criminalistics (for the distinction between forensic genetics and other forensic sciences). Its historical evolution shows substantial theoretical and technological developments and has, meanwhile, turned this discipline into a broad and independent scientific area for which it is becoming more and more difficult to identify its most remote ancestors. The evolution of modern societies substantially broadened the forensic framework by introducing new forms of resolution of disputes, allowing space for prevention, and regulating more restrictively the prosecution investigations. This means that a potentially forensic situation is the one for which 2 or more sides (individual persons or institutions) agree on the reality of the facts but do disagree on the causes or authorship (thereafter, the term “forensic” is used for these scenarios). Thus, civil litigations (and not just criminal) are common but also conflicts (which are increasing with time) that are attempted to be solved outside a formal court environment. It is surprising that most of the life span of the discipline has been devoted to human genetics, since a number of disagreements on questions intrinsically related to nonhuman materials always existed and, even when strictly human issues are at stake (such as the identification of a murderer), evidence from nonhuman sources can be crucial or are just the sole type of available evidence.he techniques of forensic genetics originally developed for humans were rapidly adapted to other sources of genetic material. The experimental pipeline used in NHFG starts with a request for a genetic testing. Next, samples are collected using a sampling kit (either commercial or assembled in the laboratory) and transported to the laboratory under proper conditions. An accurate description of the biological nature of the sample is usually included, and a unique code must be assigned to each collected sample. If the request is part of a legal procedure, not only traceability but also the strict maintenance of the chain of custody (chronological documentation of the evidence) are key issues.

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While traditional forensic genetics has been oriented towards using human DNA in criminal investigation and civil court cases, it currently presents a much wider application range, including not only legal situations sensu stricto but also and, increasingly often, to preemptively avoid judicial processes (Ferri G, Corradini B, 2015). Despite some difficulties, current forensic genetics is progressively incorporating the analysis of nonhuman genetic material to a greater extent. The analysis of this material—including other animal species, plants, or microorganisms—is now broadly used, providing ancillary evidence in criminalistics in cases such as animal attacks, trafficking of species, bioterrorism and biocrimes, and identification of fraudulent food composition, among many others. Here, we explore how nonhuman forensic genetics is being revolutionized by the increasing variety of genetic markers, the establishment of faster, less error-burdened and cheaper sequencing technologies, and the emergence and improvement of models, methods, and bioinformatics facilities (Dufresnes C, Jan C, Bienert F, 2017). It is surprising that most of the life span of the discipline has been devoted to human genetics, since a number of disagreements on questions intrinsically related to nonhuman materials always existed and, even when strictly human issues are at stake (such as the identification of a murderer), evidence from nonhuman sources can be crucial or are just the sole type of available evidence.

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In sum, forensic DNA protocols can be expected to become more rapid and sensitive and provide stronger investigative potential. New short tandem repeat (STR) loci have expanded the core set of genetic markers used for human identification in Europe and the USA. Rapid DNA testing is on the verge of enabling new applications. Next-generation sequencing has the potential to provide greater depth of coverage for information on STR alleles. Familial DNA searching has expanded capabilities of DNA databases in parts of the world where it is allowed. Challenges and opportunities that will impact the future of forensic DNA are explored including the need for education and training to improve interpretation of complex DNA profiles.

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Ferri G, Corradini B, Ferrari F, Santunione AL, Palazzoli F, Alu M. Forensic botany II, DNA barcode for land plants: Which markers after the international agreement? Forensic Sci Int Genet. 2015;15:131–6. doi: 10.1016/j.fsigen.2014.10.005 .

Linacre A, Thorpe J. Detection and identification of cannabis by DNA. Forensic Sci Int. 1998;91(1):71–6.

Prosser SW, Hebert PD. Rapid identification of the botanical and entomological sources of honey using DNA metabarcoding. Food Chem. 2017;214:183–91. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2016.07.077 .

Sharma S, Shrivastava N. Renaissance in phytomedicines: promising implications of NGS technologies. Planta. 2016;244(1):19–38. doi: 10.1007/s00425-016-2492-8

Dufresnes C, Jan C, Bienert F, Goudet J, Fumagalli L. Broad-Scale Genetic Diversity of Cannabis for Forensic Applications. PLoS One. 2017

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