Developmental and internal validation of a novel 13 loci STR multiplex method for Cannabis sativa DNA profiling

Leg Med (Tokyo). 2017 May:26:33-40. doi: 10.1016/j.legalmed.2017.03.001. Epub 2017 Mar 2.


Marijuana (Cannabis sativa L.) is a plant cultivated and trafficked worldwide as a source of fiber (hemp), medicine, and intoxicant. The development of a validated method using molecular techniques such as short tandem repeats (STRs) could serve as an intelligence tool to link multiple cases by means of genetic individualization or association of cannabis samples. For this purpose, a 13 loci STR multiplex method was developed, optimized, and validated according to relevant ISFG and SWGDAM guidelines. The STR multiplex consists of 13 previously described C. sativa STR loci: ANUCS501, 9269, 4910, 5159, ANUCS305, 9043, B05, 1528, 3735, CS1, D02, C11, and H06. A sequenced allelic ladder consisting of 56 alleles was designed to accurately genotype 101 C. sativa samples from three seizures provided by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection crime lab. Using an optimal range of DNA (0.5-1.0ng), validation studies revealed well-balanced electropherograms (inter-locus balance range: 0.500-1.296), relatively balanced heterozygous peaks (mean peak height ratio of 0.83 across all loci) with minimal artifacts and stutter ratio (mean stutter of 0.021 across all loci). This multi-locus system is relatively sensitive (0.13ng of template DNA) with a combined power of discrimination of 1 in 55 million. The 13 STR panel was found to be species specific for C. sativa; however, non-specific peaks were produced with Humulus lupulus. The results of this research demonstrate the robustness and applicability of this 13 loci STR system for forensic DNA profiling of marijuana samples.

Keywords: Cannabis sativa; DNA typing; Forensic plant science; Reference population; Short tandem repeats.

MeSH terms

  • Cannabis / genetics*
  • Forensic Genetics*
  • Gene Frequency
  • Humans
  • Microsatellite Repeats*
  • Species Specificity