NY Appellate Court: Law enforcement agencies can’t use DNA database for familial searches (Gothamist)

Gothamist: NY Appellate Court: Law enforcement agencies can’t use DNA database for familial searches. “Law enforcement agencies can’t use a state DNA database to investigate the possible relatives of people whose genetic material matches those on file, a panel of state appellate judges ruled Thursday. The court found the use of the database can disproportionately target people of color.”

KIRO: Genealogy resolves Canada’s ‘Babes in the Wood’ case 70 years after boys’ hatchet murders

KIRO: Genealogy resolves Canada’s ‘Babes in the Wood’ case 70 years after boys’ hatchet murders. “A groundskeeper clearing brush from a Canadian park in 1953 made a horrific discovery: the skeletal remains of two young boys who had been bludgeoned to death with a hatchet. For nearly 70 years, the boys, whose murders became known as the ‘Babes in the Wood’ case, remained unidentified as their brutal deaths slowly became Vancouver’s oldest unsolved homicides. The advent of genetic genealogy has changed that.” I don’t generally index forensic genealogy articles because they’re usually brief and basic. This one is really extensive and has tons of external links.

Rape survivors, child victims, consensual sex partners: San Francisco police have used DNA from all of them for 7 years (USA Today)

USA Today: Rape survivors, child victims, consensual sex partners: San Francisco police have used DNA from all of them for 7 years. “It’s not only sexual assault survivors whose DNA has been stored by the San Francisco Police Department’s crime lab – and routinely searched for matches to suspects in criminal cases. For the last seven years, the department’s crime lab has also been keeping all processed DNA – including, for example, from victims of violent crimes, child victims, or individuals entirely uninvolved in the crime like roommates and consensual partners – according to the police chief and a copy of the lab’s standard operating procedures obtained by USA TODAY.”

De-extinction puzzle: how decoding numbat DNA could help resurrect the Tasmanian tiger (The Guardian)

The Guardian: De-extinction puzzle: how decoding numbat DNA could help resurrect the Tasmanian tiger. “Researchers at DNA Zoo Australia have mapped the genome of the numbat for the first time. The milestone is notable in its own right, motivated by a desire to improve conservation efforts for the endangered termite-eating marsupial, which is now found only in small pockets of Western Australia. But in announcing the development last week, scientists also had a more extraordinary suggestion: that the numbat’s DNA could be used as a blueprint to bring its extinct cousin, the thylacine, back from the dead.”

SciTechDaily: Ancient Ostrich Eggshell Beads Reveal 50,000-Year-Old Social Network Across Africa

SciTechDaily: Ancient Ostrich Eggshell Beads Reveal 50,000-Year-Old Social Network Across Africa. “Humans are social creatures, but little is known about when, how, and why different populations connected in the past. Answering these questions is crucial for interpreting the biological and cultural diversity that we see in human populations today. DNA is a powerful tool for studying genetic interactions between populations, but it can’t address any cultural exchanges within these ancient meetings. Now, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History have turned to an unexpected source of information—ostrich eggshell beads—to shed light on ancient social networks.”

Georgia Public Radio: Scientists vacuum zoo animals’ DNA out of the air

Georgia Public Radio: Scientists vacuum zoo animals’ DNA out of the air. “A key part of protecting endangered species is figuring out where they’re living. Now researchers say they have found a powerful new tool that could help: vacuuming DNA out of the air. ‘This is a bit of a crazy idea,’ admits Elizabeth Clare, a molecular ecologist at York University in Toronto, Canada. ‘We are literally sucking DNA out of the sky.’ But it works. Clare’s group was one of two to publish papers in the journal Current Biology Thursday showing that dozens of animal species could be detected by simply sampling the air.”

Wired: Scientists Settled a Century-Old Family Drama Using DNA From Postcards

Wired: Scientists Settled a Century-Old Family Drama Using DNA From Postcards . “MyHeritage, the DNA testing company, announced in 2018 that it would be jumping into the business of commercial artifact testing. An Australian company, Totheletter DNA, was founded in 2018 to offer DNA testing of artifacts ‘from your passed loved-ones to enhance your genealogical research’ for a cost of over $2,000. But what was once envisioned as an explosion in artifact testing has petered into more of a slow burn.”

Forward: My wife gave me a DNA test kit for Hanukkah. The family secrets it revealed changed my life

Forward: My wife gave me a DNA test kit for Hanukkah. The family secrets it revealed changed my life. “My journey started in 2017 when my wife gave me a mail-in DNA test as a Hanukkah gift. I completed the test but only glanced at the results. After all, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about my family. What else could I learn from my DNA? Three years later, with a wealth of time on my hands during the pandemic lockdown of 2020, I decided to take a closer look at my DNA test results: 100% Ashkenazi Jewish. No surprise there. But when I examined the names of the people I shared significant amounts of DNA with, I didn’t recognize any of them.”

New York Times: Last Known Slave Ship Is Remarkably Well Preserved, Researchers Say

New York Times: Last Known Slave Ship Is Remarkably Well Preserved, Researchers Say. “As much as two-thirds of the original structure remains, including the hold below the main deck where 110 people were imprisoned during the ship’s final, brutal journey from Benin to Mobile in 1860. The researchers said it was possible that DNA could be extracted from the sealed, oxygen-free hull, which is filled with silt. Barrels, casks and bags used to stow provisions for the captives could also be found inside, they said.”

EMBL: Connecting the dots between bacterial genes around the world

EMBL: Connecting the dots between bacterial genes around the world. “This database, created using publicly available data, contains more than 2 billion genes, 303 million of them dubbed unigenes. A unigene is a DNA sequence that scientists use during data analysis to represent a group of multiple almost-identical gene sequences that come from the same microbial species. These unigenes have been identified from 14 different environments, including human and animal bodies, as well as soil and water from different geographical locations. The resource aims to help the scientific community study various aspects of microbial planetary biology, such as similarities and differences between microbiomes found in distant locations or facing different environmental conditions.”

Sydney Morning Herald: Next level of DNA analysis allows police to build picture of suspects

Sydney Morning Herald: Next level of DNA analysis allows police to build picture of suspects . “Forensic specialists obtain a DNA sample at a crime scene. It doesn’t have any matching profiles in police databases but, using analysis of the genetic material, they deduce the gender, ancestry, eye colour and hair colour of the potential suspect in the investigation. It sounds like something you might see in a science fiction movie, but the technology is now available to law enforcement agencies like the Australian Federal Police – a powerful new tool for investigators.”

Nature: Europe’s Roma people are vulnerable to poor practice in genetics

Nature: Europe’s Roma people are vulnerable to poor practice in genetics. “For many samples, either there is no record of consent being obtained from individuals whose DNA was collected, or the procedures used to obtain consent were inadequate. This applies to numerous studies involving Indigenous communities, including Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Native American communities in the United States and the San people in southern Africa. Moreover, people often have little or no say in how their DNA will be used, and rarely benefit from the studies. Now, our analysis of several hundred publications and five databases points to multiple issues with the handling and interpretation of DNA data from Roma people. The Roma are the largest minority group in Europe.”

New York Times: Timber Poachers Set a Forest on Fire. Tree DNA Sent One to Prison.

New York Times: Timber Poachers Set a Forest on Fire. Tree DNA Sent One to Prison.. “Prosecutors said this was the first time that such evidence had been used in a federal criminal trial, although it has been used in state cases and in federal cases that did not reach trial. Researchers hope this will deter future poaching, particularly of bigleaf maples, for which there is now a large database.”