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Missing Woman's Identity Confirmed Woman Found in the Desert, Identified by DNAExam
On August 5, officers from the Brooks County Sheriff's Department found a woman's body 20 miles from Highway 281, not far from Falfurrias.
Mitochondrial DNA Analysis – A Different Approach to Crime Solving
Bio-Synthesis, Inc. begins Mitochondrial DNA Testing or MtDNA, making it one of only a handful of labs to perfect the technology. MtDNA Testing allows Forensic scientist to get a profile from samples that are old or possibly damaged, where the usual technique may not be effective....
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Glossary Index
Click on any of the letters below to quickly navigate through the terms and definitions.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 
Adenine (A) - one of the four nitrogenous bases found in DNA; it pairs with thymine (T) to bind and form a base pair, an important molecular component for the structure of DNA
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Antibody - a protein in the blood produced in response to the presence of antigens; it binds with foreign bodies in the bloodstream, such as bacteria, viruses, and other biological invaders
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Antigen - a foreign substance or biological invader that elicits an immune response; the presence of antigens triggers the production of antibodies.
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Blood types - also known as the ABO system, blood types correspond with specific blood cell characteristics based on the presence or absence of certain antigens on the red blood cell surface; the 4 blood types are A, B, AB, and O.
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Buccal swabbing - a DNA collection process by which a bristle or cotton-like material, often similar to a large Q-tip, is used to rub the inside of the cheek; this process is painless and quick
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Chain of custody DNA test - a legal term for a test that is performed to ensure the integrity of the results; typically, the results of a chain of custody test are court admissible; these tests cost more than in-home tests because of the collection and administrative procedures necessary to ensure the chain of custody is strictly followed
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Child Support Enforcement Program (CSE) - a national program established in 1975 to ensure that both parents are financially responsible for a child; this program is enforced through the coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal child support agencies
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Chromosome - the large macromolecule that contains DNA; it is located in the nucleus of a cell and is typically wrapped around a histone; the human body has 23 pairs of chromosomes
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Close Relative - the biological parents and full siblings of the alleged father or mother
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Combined Paternity Index (CPI) - a common statistical result from paternity tests, representing the overall odds that a random, untested male could have the same genetic profile as the alleged father being tested; for example, if a paternity test resulted in a CPI of 300,000, this would mean that the odds that another male (not the alleged father) is the biological father of the child would be 1 in 300,000 - the probability of paternity for the alleged father in this case, then, would be 99.99967%; similar values are given for maternity, siblingship, grandparentage, and genetic reconstruction tests
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Cytosine (C) - one of the four nitrogenous bases found in DNA; it pairs with guanine (G) to bind and form a base pair, an important molecular component for the structure of DNA
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Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) - a self-replicating molecule found in all living things that serves as the blueprint for all the structures and functions of the body; DNA makes up chromosomes
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Deoxyribose - the five-carbon sugar found in DNA
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Disestablishment of paternity - the legal determination that a man is not the father of a child; some states have provisions for disestablishing paternity, although many courts are reluctant to break ties between fathers and children because of the emotional impact it may have on the children
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Double helix model - the structure of DNA as defined by Watson and Crick; this model has a backbone of two parallel helices, formed by sugars and phosphates, that is connected by base pairs (A-T, C-G)
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Establishment of paternity - the legal determination that a man is the father of a child; this is particularly important in child support cases
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Fragments - pieces of DNA; often used for DNA testing and analysis
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Gene - the hereditary unit in living organisms; each gene determines a physical characteristic or a behavior; in humans, genes are passed from parents to children
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Genetics - the study of heredity in living organisms
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Genotype - the genetic characteristics of an organism
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Guanine (G) - one of the four nitrogenous bases found in DNA; it pairs with cytosine (C) to bind and form a base pair, an important molecular component for the structure of DNA
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Human leukocyte antigens (HLA) - proteins encoded by genes that are unique to each person; HLA have been used in the past for determining paternity
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Identifiable information (adoption) - descriptive details in an adoption case that may lead to the positive identification of an adopted person, birth parent, or other birth relative; mutual consent between the adopted person and the birth family is typically required to access this information; this information frequently includes the current name and contact information of a person involved in an adoption case
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Locus/loci - position or location of a gene on a chromosome
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Mitochondrion/mitochondria - an organelle in the cell that is responsible for respiration and energy; it contains unique DNA that can be used for mtDNA testing
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Mutation - a change in the structure of a gene; often caused by the addition, deletion, or rearrangement of a base
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Non-custodial parent - the parent who does not have custody of a child, who is often required to pay child support
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Non-identifiable information (adoption) - descriptive details about adopted persons and their birth relatives that are generally released to adopted persons over the age of 18 in the United States; some states charge fees for the release of this information; this information often includes:
  • Date and place of the adopted person's birth.
  • Age and physical description of the birth parents.
  • Race, ethnicity, religion, and medical history of the birth parents.
  • Birth parents' educational and occupational status at the time of the adoption.
  • Reason for placing the child for adoption.
  • Existence of other children born to the birth parents.
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Nucleotide - the basic unit of all nucleic acids, including DNA; in DNA, the nucleotides consist of a nitrogen base (adenine, cytosine, guanine, or thymine), a sugar (deoxyribose), and a phosphate group
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Nucleus - the location of most genetic material in the cell; it is responsible for organizing and storing genes
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Pathology - the study of diseases, especially in tissues, through forensic or laboratory diagnostic techniques
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Phenotype - the physical appearance caused by the genotype of an organism
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Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) - a technique for copying small fragments of DNA many times; it is one of the most common processes used in DNA testing
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Power of exclusion - the power of a test to eliminate a certain percentage of the population from being biologically related to an individual; for example, if a paternity test using blood typing has a power of exclusion of 30%, only 30% of the male population could be eliminated from being the biological father of a tested child
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Prenatal testing - DNA testing that is performed before a child is born; because DNA is present at the moment of conception, testing can be performed to verify biological relationships before birth; the DNA analysis is identical to testing performed after the child is born except that the child's DNA is collected through amniocentesis or chorionic villi sampling; DNA can also be collected from the umbilical cord upon the birth of the child
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Probability of paternity - a statistical value for the odds that an alleged father is the biological father of a child; this value is derived from converting the Combined Paternity Index (CPI) into a percentage; probabilities of maternity, siblingship, grandparentage, twin zygosity, and relatedness are all calculated in the same way
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Restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) - a process by which DNA samples are cut into specific fragments of varying lengths for analysis; a child's fragments will be the same length as the fragments of his or her biological parents; similarities in fragment lengths can be used to verify other biological relationships
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Rh factors - inherited antigens often found on the blood cells; some individuals have these antigens (Rh+) while others do not (Rh-); the presence of Rh factors, in conjunction with blood typing, has been used in the past to determine paternity
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Ribose - a five-carbon sugar found in RNA, a molecule similar to DNA that is useful in replicating DNA
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Serological test - an analysis of one's blood serum, particularly for HLA typing
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Thymine (T) - one of the four nitrogenous bases found in DNA; it pairs with adenine (A) to bind and form a base pair, an important molecular component for the structure of DNA
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Transformation - a change in a cell from a normal state to a deadly state; this was significant to Griffith's and Avery's tests
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Voluntary acknowledgement of paternity - a written admission of paternity, typically signed at the time of a child's birth
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X-ray diffraction analysis - a laboratory technique through which the structure of a compound is observed; this process involves crystallizing the compound and exposing it to radiation to view the compound's shape; this was used by Franklin to reveal the structure of DNA
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Zygote - the cell formed by the union of the sperm and the egg; the initial stage of fetal development; identical twins develop from the same zygote and are thus genetically identical
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