Short Communication| Volume 16, P8-12, May 2015

ESDA®-Lite collection of DNA from latent fingerprints on documents

Published:November 14, 2014DOI:


      • Non-destructive DNA collection with the ESDA was compared to dry swabbing and substrate cutting.
      • DNA was collected from latent fingerprints on six different varieties of paper.
      • The dry swabbing technique yielded the highest percentage of full and high partial STR profiles.
      • ESDA collection generated a higher percentage of useable STR profiles than substrate cutting.
      • Full STR profiles can be obtained from a document without compromising its structural integrity.


      The ability to detect and non-destructively collect biological samples for DNA processing would benefit the forensic community by preserving the physical integrity of evidentiary items for more thorough evaluations by other forensic disciplines. The Electrostatic Detection Apparatus (ESDA®) was systemically evaluated for its ability to non-destructively collect DNA from latent fingerprints deposited on various paper substrates for short tandem repeat (STR) DNA profiling. Fingerprints were deposited on a variety of paper substrates that included resume paper, cotton paper, magazine paper, currency, copy paper, and newspaper. Three DNA collection techniques were performed: ESDA collection, dry swabbing, and substrate cutting. Efficacy of each collection technique was evaluated by the quantity of DNA present in each sample and the percent profile generated by each sample. Both the ESDA and dry swabbing non-destructive sampling techniques outperformed the destructive methodology of substrate cutting. A greater number of full profiles were generated from samples collected with the non-destructive dry swabbing collection technique than were generated from samples collected with the ESDA; however, the ESDA also allowed the user to visualize the area of interest while non-destructively collecting the biological material. The ability to visualize the biological material made sampling straightforward and eliminated the need for numerous, random swabbings/cuttings. Based on these results, the evaluated non-destructive ESDA collection technique has great potential for real-world forensic implementation.


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