case submission form
DNA prESERVATION FLUID for TISSUE samples
envelope for storage of DRY biologicals
swab for sampling wet or dry stains
There is a growing range of modern analytical approaches to DNA testing that would be useful in wildlife forensics, and when used appropriately, these approaches can be highly discriminatory. Murdoch University is well placed and equipped to carry out a variety of DNA testing on non-human forensic and seizure investigations. However, in order to be able to use this information for legal proceedings it is vital that correct procedures are carried out when collecting DNA. This document provides a detailed description of DNA sampling procedures to ensure DNA integrity is maintained as well as eliminating the risk of contamination thus compromising the sample and its use in a forensic setting.
One of the most common queries we receive is from people in the field who want to collect samples for DNA analysis. In collaboration with the Department of Environment and conservation we have assembled a DNA sampling kit that contains all the gear you will require to sample any biological substance. Importantly, this kit will ensure that the DNA reaches us in a good, non-fragmented, state that is suitable for DNA work. The more degraded the DNA the more complicated the genetic screening becomes.
If you need a DNA sampling kit? - contact us to arrange for one (there is a cost associated with each kit).
What is in the kit & what is it used for?
Each kit has enough items for 5 samples and contain the following components..........
Alcohol wipes (sterilizing/ cleaning collector or equipment)
Plastic tweezers (for clean collection & picking up samples)
Individual swabs (for ease in collecting wet material) and saline to wet dry stains
Blade (for cutting dry tissues and sampling tissue)
Tamper resistant & evidence transportation bag (safe transportation of samples and for maintaining chain of custody)
Gloves (protection of the collector from potentially hazardous material and to prevent contamination)
Each kit contains the following documentation
Case and sample submission forms (click here for a copy)
A detailed description of the samples you can collect and how to avoid damage to them
Information concerning safety information OH&S (click here to download safety information regarding components in
this kit an MSDS about DMSO can be found here)
Each kit contains an easy to follow field-friendly diagram on what to collect and how to store each sample (pictured) (click here to download a pdf).
Detailed DNA Sample Collection (download a pdf of this document here)
DNA is preserved (in varying degrees) in all biological substances. Some of the more commonly encountered samples, including how best to collect and store then, are outlined below. If you have any questions or concerns about how to best sample biologicals you can contact one of the staff members at www.wildlifeforensics.com.au - this website also provides more information than is contained in this kit.
Blood (Wet): Samples of blood are commonly found on leaves, rocks or dirt. If the stain is large enough, sample the blood using a dry swab – try to minimise the contact with dirt or other material as this can complicate analysis. Air-dry the swab for a few minutes, then place into the sealed tube provided. If the sample is “wet” microbes like fungi start growing on the swab, and in so doing promoted the degradation of the DNA.
Blood (Dry): As above except collect the stain using a clean swab moistened with Sodium chloride (saline). Air-dry the swab then place into the sealed tube provided.
Bone/Teeth: Wearing gloves and using clean forceps (single use) to collect the sample and place in a manila envelope. Bone and teeth are particularly susceptible to contamination (with human DNA) by handling – this complicates DNA testing as a mixture is now present. DNA is collected from tooth pulp and solid bone, so the whole tooth/bone is preferred (if practical).
Eggshell: Use clean forceps (single use) to collect eggshell and place in a manila envelope. Store each eggshell in different envelope to prevent cross contamination.
Feathers: If feathers are attached to the bird, pluck the feather from the bird first. Cut the ends (where it attaches to the bird) off the feather. Use clean forceps to hold the end of the feather to prevent contamination and place in a manila envelope. Collect at least 3 feathers from each bird and store feathers from each bird in a separate envelope to avoid cross contamination. For immature or “blood” feathers collect in the same way but store in the vials containing preservation fluid.
Fluids: Wet and dry fluids (semen, saliva etc.) are to be collected according to the sampling method for wet and dry blood described above.
Hair: Hair should be plucked NOT cut as the “best” DNA is present in hair follicles. Without touching the hair follicle, place a minimum of 20 hairs from each individual in a manila envelope. Hair from different individuals is to be stored in a separate envelope to avoid cross contamination. If collecting from a whole animal, wearing gloves take a ‘pinch-full’ making sure to remove the hair follicle
Muscle/Tissue/Organs: Wearing gloves collect a reasonable amount of tissue (about 1 cm2), if the choice is available liver/muscle is preferred – but any tissue (except gut) will do. Shave off the outer tissue with a clean blade to expose fresh tissue then clean the blade with an alcohol wipe. Cut a small section of fresh tissue and place in the vial containing preservation fluid. If it is inappropriate to sample internally, or if there are time constraints then an ear clip is also a good alternative. Please make sure that the storage buffer completely covers the tissue sample.
Other material (Eg. plant/skin): Use clean forceps (single use) to collect the sample and place in a manila envelope for dry samples or a plastic vial with preservation fluid for wet samples.
Once you have secured a sample it is important to consider:
Sample labelling: Ensure all sample containers/envelopes are clearly labelled with sample type, species identification (if known), collection site (GPS details if possible), date and name of collection officer.
Accompanying Paperwork: A sample and case submission form should be completed for each investigation and enclosed with the samples.
Labelling/Sealing tamper-evident Bag: Samples and paperwork are to be sealed in a labelled tamper-evident bag before transport.
Shipping Samples/Continuity of Evidence: Samples can be shipped via courier, registered mail or delivered in person. The packaging should be sealed and signed by the investigator. The seals will be examined following transportation to ensure the package was intact during shipment. Samples submitted to the laboratory for analysis are signed in as evidence and placed in a secure evidence room.