Secondary and subsequent DNA transfer during criminal investigation

Forensic Sci Int Genet. 2015 Jul:17:155-162. doi: 10.1016/j.fsigen.2015.05.009. Epub 2015 May 14.


With the introduction of new multiplex PCR kits and instrumentation such as the Applied Biosystems 3500xl, there has recently been a rapid change in technology that has greatly increased sensitivity of detection so that a DNA profile can routinely be obtained from only a few cells. Research to evaluate the risks of passive transfer has not kept pace with this development; hence the risk of innocent DNA transfer at the crime-scene is currently not properly understood. The purpose of this study was to investigate the possibility of investigator-mediated transfer of DNA traces with disposable nitrile-gloves used during crime-scene examinations. We investigated the primary transfer of freshly deposited DNA from touched plastic, wood or metal substrates and secondary and tertiary transfer by a person wearing disposable nitrile-gloves and onto a third object. We show that with use of the new highly sensitive technologies available in forensic DNA analysis there is an enhanced probability to obtain a DNA-profile which has not been directly deposited on the object but is an outcome of one or more transfer events. The nitrile-gloves used by investigators during exhibit examination can act as a vector for DNA transfer from one item to another. We have shown that the amount of DNA deposited on an object affects the probability of transfer. Secondly, the type of substrate material that DNA is deposited onto has an impact on transfer rates.

Keywords: DNA; Forensic; Touch DNA; Transfer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA / analysis
  • DNA / chemistry*
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA Contamination*
  • DNA Fingerprinting / methods
  • Forensic Genetics / methods
  • Forensic Sciences / methods
  • Humans
  • Specimen Handling / methods*
  • Touch


  • DNA