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The presence of environmental DNA within a newly established research laboratory: Comparing 'Dirty' and 'Clean' areas

Hymus, Colby (2016) The presence of environmental DNA within a newly established research laboratory: Comparing 'Dirty' and 'Clean' areas. Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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DNA evidence is one of the most prominent types of physical evidence utilised within forensic investigations. There is a sound reasoning behind this – the resources afforded to the development of DNA analysis techniques are immense, allowing the discipline almost unparalleled evidentiary weighting. This fact is reinforced by the popular knowledge of DNA within society, even those who do not have an understanding of the processes involved in DNA analysis are aware of the statistical power carried by this form of evidence. This power comes from the development of more sensitive and discriminatory forms of analysis, culminating to the point that samples previously impossible to analyse can now be a viable source of information.

While this progress has allowed DNA its position at the forefront of forensic science, there needs to be awareness of the limitations and risks involved. The sensitivity now found within the science may allow more samples to be tested, but it also means that the concepts of transfer and background DNA are more relevant than ever before. There has been an influx in the amount of literature reporting on these issues and how they can affect the entire process of DNA analysis. Overall, a clear consensus emerged that the risk of contamination or corruption of DNA evidence by DNA present within the environment is a real issue, but one that can be minimised through awareness and effective decontamination protocols.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Supervisor(s): Chapman, Brendan and Speers, James
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