Interpreting DNA Evidence: Statistical Genetics for Forensic Scientists


This collection of 17 wide-ranging articles shows the remarkable applicability of molecular approaches to many aspects of ecology and evolution. The articles are all in the format of reviews and grouped into three sections: part 1 on population biology, kinship and ®ngerprinting, part 2 on species and part 3 on higher taxa and systematics. Within part 1, the advantages and pitfalls of microsatellite analysis are well-covered with two reviews (SchloÈ tterer and Pemberton; Rosenbaum and Deinard) while Caetano-Anolle s describes an extraordinary array of approaches to reveal alternative polymorphic markers using arbitrary oligonucleotide primers (RAPDs and the sons and daughters of RAPDs). From a more conceptual angle, the three remaining articles in part 1 describe how a variety of di€erent molecular techniques have helped in studies of kinship and reproductive success in insects and birds (Webster and Westneat; Siva-Jothy and Hadrys; Scott and Williams). Part 2 opens with two articles on the use of molecular data to distinguish between di€erent speciation models (Templeton; Wakeley and Hey), and then Amato et al. and Vogler show how molecular markers can aid in decision-making in conservation biology. The model bacterial species comparison between Eschericia coli and Salmonella enterica (serovar Typhimurium) is discussed in molecular terms by Ochman and Groisman, while Routman and Cheverud emphasize the value of quantitative trait loci in speciation studies. Part 3 has three articles relating to molecular data analysis (Wheeler; Golstein and Specht; Larson) the last of which considers the vexed question of how to combine molecular and morphological data sets. Of the ®nal two chapters, I particularly enjoyed that by Cunningham and Collins who review what is known about the faunal interchanges between the Paci®c and the Atlantic, and the value of molecular markers in analysing these. In contrast, the developmental genetics considered by Jacobs et al. stands out rather uncomfortably as covering distinctly di€erent material from the rest of the book. The articles are well-written and well-referenced (up-to-date until 1997) and I found that reading the book from cover to cover gave an interesting perspective of the ®eld. The book is not intended to be comprehensive (there are some huge gaps, e.g. molecular clocks, comparative genomics, ancient DNA) and cannot be used as a core text for teaching molecular ecology and evolution, but will be genuinely useful for supplementary reading. The editing is light which leads to some repetition among articles and some inconsistency in the use of acronyms. While on the subject of acronyms, this book really illustrates the extent to which this ®eld is swamped with them. Whatever Rosenbaum and Deinard's concerns, let us have `microsatellites' instead of `SSRs' and `STRs', and let `ASAP' stand for `as soon as possible' rather than `arbitrary signatures from ampli®cation pro®les'! It should be noted that this book has a more substantial 1994 predecessor [Molecular Ecology and Evolution: Approaches and Applications (B. Schierwater et al., eds) pp 622]. All but two of the articles in the new book are by authors who wrote articles in the previous one. Most of the authors have produced a radical revision of their previous work or a completely new piece, but ®ve of the articles in the new book are very similar (albeit updated) versions of articles in the old one. So, if you have the old volume, think twice before buying this book. If you don't have the old volume, I would recommend DeSalle and Schierwater's book as an enjoyable sampler of the ®eld of molecular ecology and evolution.

DOI: 10.1038/sj.hdy.6885562
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@article{Nichols1999InterpretingDE, title={Interpreting DNA Evidence: Statistical Genetics for Forensic Scientists}, author={Richard A Nichols}, journal={Heredity}, year={1999}, volume={82}, pages={585-586} }