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Forensic Sci Int Genet. 2015 May;16:52-57. doi: 10.1016/j.fsigen.2014.11.017. Epub 2014 Nov 29.

Feline mitochondrial DNA sampling for forensic analysis: when enough is enough!

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Department of Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California - Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California - Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA.
CIBIO, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos and Departamento de Biologia da Faculdade de Ciências do Porto, Universidade do Porto, Portugal.
Laboratorio di Genetica, ISPRA, Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale, Via Cà Fornacetta 9, 40064 Ozzano dell'Emilia, BO, Italy; Department 18/Section of Environmental Engineering, Aalborg University, Sohngårdsholmsvej 57, 9000 Aalborg, Denmark.
Department of Animal Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Assiut University, 71526 Assiut, Egypt.


Pet hair has a demonstrated value in resolving legal issues. Cat hair is chronically shed and it is difficult to leave a home with cats without some level of secondary transfer. The power of cat hair as an evidentiary resource may be underused because representative genetic databases are not available for exclusionary purposes. Mitochondrial control region databases are highly valuable for hair analyses and have been developed for the cat. In a representative worldwide data set, 83% of domestic cat mitotypes belong to one of twelve major types. Of the remaining 17%, 7.5% are unique within the published 1394 sample database. The current research evaluates the sample size necessary to establish a representative population for forensic comparison of the mitochondrial control region for the domestic cat. For most worldwide populations, randomly sampling 50 unrelated local individuals will achieve saturation at 95%. The 99% saturation is achieved by randomly sampling 60-170 cats, depending on the numbers of mitotypes available in the population at large. Likely due to the recent domestication of the cat and minimal localized population substructure, fewer cats are needed to meet mitochondria DNA control region database practical saturation than for humans or dogs. Coupled with the available worldwide feline control region database of nearly 1400 cats, minimal local sampling will be required to establish an appropriate comparative representative database and achieve significant exclusionary power.


Control region; Domestic cat; Felis silvestris catus; Forensic Science; Mitotype; mtDNA

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