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Lecture 18

Anthropology 2235A/B Lecture Notes - Lecture 18: Ancient Dna, Heteroplasmy, Voir Dire

Course Code
ANTH 2235A/B
Eldon Molto

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Lecture 18 Mitochondrial DNA in Forensic Science
o Early 1970s it was realized that DNA was present in the
mitochondria of human cells.
o Mitochondria have a clonal mode of inheritance
Argued that they evolved as a symbiotic organelle within the
eukaryotic cell to produce energy
o Following the sequencing breakthrough by Fred Sanger in the
1970s, a team at Cambridge sequenced the human mitochondrial
genome in 1981
Known as the Cambridge Reference Sequence (CRS)
o First gained prominence in evolutionary anthropology studies in the
mid 1980s
Especially with the new hypothesis on the origins of modern
Homo sapiens: “Out of Africa”
o The use of mtDNA in ancient DNA research in the mid 1980s
focused on its suitability for ancient tissues
o 1st mitochondrial DNA forensic cases occurred in the US and UK in
mid 1990s
o 1st case in Canada was R. vs. Murrin following a voir dire hearing
o The main issues raised in the voir dire hearing were
1. Contamination
2. Heteroplasmy
3. Science still debated in terms of recombination and
paternal inheritance
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