Legal, technical, and interpretational considerations in the forensic analysis of viruses

Mark R. Wilson, Scott C. Weaver, Richard A. Winegar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The forensic evaluation of viruses presents new challenges to the forensic science community. Although many criminal cases have been adjudicated involving the deliberate transmission of viruses, especially HIV, this review provides a general approach to viral forensics, especially in light of significant biodefense challenges. Newly emerging techniques of nucleic acid sequencing are discussed in a forensic context. Human mitochondrial DNA analysis, wherein mixed profiles are routinely assessed in a forensic context, provides the groundwork for an interpretational approach to the issue of mixed DNA sequences. The importance of phylogenetic classification is discussed as both providing an integrated graphical depiction of the structure of viral nucleic acid variation as well as offering a tool that can be used to assess the relatedness of complex populations of nucleic acids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)344-357
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Biodefense
  • DNA sequencing
  • DNA typing
  • Forensic science
  • Phylogenetics
  • Viruses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Genetics


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