Arboreal witness

Published: Tuesday 31 August 1993

-- (Credit: Ajit Ninan)A tree testifying against a murder suspect? But that's exactly what happened recently in the US -- a "genetic fingerprint" from two seedpods found in the suspect's truck was found to be identical to that of a paloverde tree at the site of the murder (Science, Vol 260, No 5110).

While human DNA profiles have been used as evidence in rape and murder trials since 1988, forensic experts say this is the first time plant genetic fingerprinting has been used as evidence in a criminal case.

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