Date of Award

Spring 6-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Forensic Science



First Advisor

Richard Li

Second Reader

Artem Domashevskiy

Third Advisor

Andrew Schweighardt


An enzymatic method to process decomposed non-human bone for forensic DNA analysis is presented. Red snapper species is identified by sequencing of the COI gene.

Forensic analysis of DNA from non-human bones can be important in investigating a variety of forensic cases. However, decomposed bone is difficult to process for isolating DNA. In this study, a previously established enzymatic method was utilized to process bone samples that simulate decomposed specimens. Our results demonstrated that this enzymatic processing method is effective for removing decomposed soft tissues and outer surface materials such as mineralized bone connective tissue of bone fragment samples. Our data suggested that this method can be used in the initial sample preparation for cleaning the outer surface of decomposed non-human skeletal fragments. This study introduced an alternative method for processing decomposed non-human bone evidence prior to DNA isolation. Such a method can potentially be used to process various samples of different sizes and conditions for the investigation of a wide variety of criminal cases involving animals.

Red snapper is one of the most common fish substituted by other fish in instances of illegal seafood mislabeling. The only species legally considered Red Snapper is Lutjanus campechanus, but in filet form it is virtually impossible to distinguish L. campechanus from other snappers. L. campechanus is often substituted by the less expensive fish Lutjanus peru and Lutjanus synagris. The objective of the research was to find a way to distinguish other Lutjanus species from L. campechanus by identifying acute differences in their genetic codes. DNA was extracted from eighteen collected samples. The samples were sequenced and analyzed using barcoding technology. After analyzing these sequences, it was found that there is one single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) that can differentiate the species; the SNP analyzed is at position 359. The study elucidated that a reliable testing method of Red Snappers is possible with barcoding technology paving the way for possible rapid testing. If successful rapid testing is created, the procedure could allow for prompt investigations of a wide variety of cases involving illegal seafood mislabeling.



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