This article presents research that examined primary, secondary, and tertiary DNA transfer from saliva.
Studies of DNA transfer have focused largely on the transfer of sloughed off epithelial cells from individuals' hands. This research examines primary, secondary, and tertiary transfer events involving DNA originating from saliva, a commonly encountered body fluid. More routine human behaviors were simulated to evaluate transfer, and the effects of drying time, moisture, and surface composition were investigated. The results agree with previous findings which indicate that the presence of moisture, as well as a smooth nonporous surface as the primary substrate, increases the efficiency of transfer. Previous transfer studies have found that the last individual to come into contact with an item is usually the major contributor to the resulting DNA mixture, unless conditions are simulated in which a “good shedder” serves as the primary depositor and a poor shedder serves as the secondary depositor. The results of this study indicate that when saliva is the source of the transferred DNA, the primary depositor is often the major contributor. These findings suggest that shedder status is less relevant with regard to touch DNA samples in a forensic setting and emphasize the need for caution when analyzing such samples.