U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

DNA - A Prosecutor’s Practice Notebook Inventory

Plant DNA

Home  |  Glossary  |  Resources  |  Help  |  Contact Us  |  Course Map

Photo of leaves
National Institute of Justice (NIJ) (see reuse policy).

In addition to the forensic application of DNA typing of humans and animals, scientific technology has allowed the forensic community to type plants as well. Unlike nuclear DNA analysis in humans, plant DNA is not unique because plants can be cloned. But if a plant is cloned, it can be typed or matched to its source

Photo of trees in a desert
National Institute of Justice (NIJ) (see reuse policy).

Plant DNA was first used in the United States in a murder case in the 1990's.  Arizona investigators found the nude body of a woman lying face down in a bush beneath a Palo Verde tree. A witness observed a truck leaving the area. The suspect identified in this case denied having been in the area where the woman's body was found; however, criminal investigators located two Palo Verde seedpods in the bed of this pickup truck. DNA testing showed the seedpods had originated from the same Palo Verde grove where the murdered woman's body was recovered.  In State v. Bogan, 905 P.2d 515; 183 Ariz. 506; 188 Ariz. Adv. Rep. 31 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1995), the defendant was convicted after a jury trial, and the conviction was upheld on appeal.  Bogan identified two classic forensic uses of DNA: directly connecting the suspect to a crime scene and directly refuting the suspect's statement to police regarding not being present.

Back Forward