Forensic DNA Analysis of Wheat Flour as Commonly Used in White Powder Cases

Hitomi S. Kikkawa, Makoto Tahara, Ritsuko Sugita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In the wake of terrorist attacks using anthrax and ricin, white powder is often encountered in cases of malicious mischief and terrorist threats. Wheat flour is a common white powder encountered in such criminal investigations. We used DNA analysis to investigate wheat flour samples for identification and discrimination as trace evidence. Species identification of commercially available wheat flour was carried out by sequencing a partial region of the ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase large subunit gene (rbcL). Samples were discriminated using short tandem repeat (STR) analysis. The rbcL sequences of all wheat flour samples were identical and showed a high level of similarity to known wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) sequences. Furthermore, flours had characteristic patterns in STR analyses, with specific cultivars showing distinctive patterns. These results suggested that the identification of wheat flour species is possible using rbcL sequencing, and that STR analysis is useful for discriminating between samples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1316-1321
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 2015


  • Criminalistics
  • DNA barcoding
  • DNA typing
  • Forensic science
  • Ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase large subunit gene
  • Short tandem repeats
  • White powder material

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Genetics


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