SNP, STR, FRET, Hybridization, Genotyping


Discovering, screening, and associating changes in DNA sequence are important to a broad range of disciplines and play a central role in Forensic Science. The typical types of changes include sequence variations [single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP)] and length variations [short tandem repeats (STR)]. The steps for forensic DNA sample processing are similar for both types of changes but diverge at the point of detection. A number of approaches are being explored for SNP genotyping while STR analysis primarily consists of size-based analysis by capillary electrophoresis. Limitations exist for all current detection methods that pose significant impacts to forensic analysis. Bi-allelic SNPs result in three possible genotypes with a minimal amount of information generated per marker. Limitations for SNP analysis are due to the inability to amplify a suitable number of SNP markers from low DNA content samples to provide an appropriate level of discrimination. Multi-allelic STR markers are currently the marker of choice for forensic typing but a variety of experimental artifacts are possible that consist of either biology or technology related causes. Molecular genotyping methods developed across other disciplines have potential to alleviate some of these shortcomings but no current approach is capable of genotyping both SNP and STR loci with a single chemistry. The need for a more effective, efficient, and generalized approach led to development of a unique method called Dye Probe Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (dpFRET) and determination of its suitability for forensic analysis. The development phase of the research consisted of synthetic testing to establish proof of concept for the chemistry followed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based assays to demonstrate real world applications. Following successful development, the boundaries and limitations for the technology were established (sensitivity, allelic dropout, mixed samples) and efforts were made to improve the approach. In the process, parallel testing for other fields including molecular pathology and conservation biology were incorporated to explore potential widespread application of this new approach. The overall goal of this project was to develop and explore the limitations for a unique approach to genotyping both SNPs and STRs. A majority of the work involved development of the method itself with the ultimate objective of application for forensic science. The focus of this project was to address and alleviate some of the shortcomings of current approaches that result in potential limitations for forensic analysis. It is expected that future applications of this technology might impact a wide range of disciplines to aid in discovery, screening and association of changes in DNA sequence.


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Graduation Date



Ballantyne, Jack


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program

Forensic Science








Release Date

November 2009

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)