Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Letter
  • Published:

Forensic application of DNA ‘fingerprints’


Many highly polymorphic minisatellite loci can be detected simultaneously in the human genome by hybridization to probes consisting of tandem repeats of the ‘core’ sequence1. The resulting DNA fingerprints produced by Southern blot hybridization are comprised of multiple hypervariable DNA fragments, show somatic and germline stability and are completely specific to an individual2,3. We now show that this technique can be used for forensic purposes; DNA of high relative molecular mass (Mr) can be isolated from 4-yr-old bloodstains and semen stains made on cotton cloth and digested to produce DNA fingerprints suitable for individual identification. Further, sperm nuclei can be separated from vaginal cellular debris, obtained from semen-contaminated vaginal swabs, enabling positive identification of the male donor/suspect. It is envisaged that DNA fingerprinting will revolutionize forensic biology particularly with regard to the identification of rape suspects.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Jeffreys, A. J., Wilson, V. & Thein, S. L. Nature 314, 67–73 (1985).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Jeffreys, A. J., Wilson, V. & Thein, S. L. Nature 316, 76–79 (1985).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Jeffreys, A. J., Brookfield, J. F. Y. & Semeonoff, R. Nature 317, 818–819 (1985).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Burgess, R. M., Sutton, J. G. & Whitehead, P. H. J. forens. Sci. 24, 392–396 (1979).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Gerler, A. & Nagai, T. Z. Rechtsmed 90, 15–18 (1983).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Divall, G. B. Electrophoresis 6, 249–258 (1985).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Sensabaugh, G. F. Isoenzymes: Current Topics in Biological and Medical Research Vol. 6, 247–282 (Liss, New York, 1982).

    Google Scholar 

  8. Denault, G. C., Takimoto, H. H., Kwan, Q. Y. & Pallos, A. J. forens. Sci. 25, 479–498 (1980).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Blake, E. T. & Sensabaugh, G. F. J. forens. Sci. 21, 784–796 (1976).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Davies, A., Lincoln, P. J. & Martin, P. Forens. Sci. Int. 25, 201–208 (1984).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Kishi, K. & Iseki, S. J. Immunogenet. 2, 205–210 (1975).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Higuchi, R., Bowman, B., Freiberger, M., Ryder, O. A. & Wilson, A. C. Nature 312, 282–284 (1984).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Pääbo, S. Nature 314, 644–645 (1985).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  14. Calvin, H. I. & Bedford, J. M. Reprod. Fert., Suppl. 13, 65–67 (1971).

    Google Scholar 

  15. Maniatis, T., Fritsch, E. F. & Sambrook, J. Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York, 1982).

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Gill, P., Jeffreys, A. & Werrett, D. Forensic application of DNA ‘fingerprints’. Nature 318, 577–579 (1985).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing