Local mitochondrial DNA haplotype databases needed for domestic dog populations that have experienced founder effect
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Biological material from pets is often collected as evidence from crime scenes. Due to sample type and quality, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is frequently evaluated to identify the potential contributor. MtDNA has a lower discriminatory power than nuclear DNA with multiple individuals in a population potentially carrying the same mtDNA sequence, or haplotype. The frequency distribution of mtDNA haplotypes in a population must be known in order to determine the evidentiary value of a match between crime scene evidence and the potential contributor of the biological material. This is especially important in geographic areas that include remote and/or isolated populations where founder effect may have lead to a decrease in genetic diversity and a non-random distribution of haplotypes relative to the population at large. Here we compared the haplotype diversity in dogs from the noncontiguous states of Alaska and Hawaii relative to the contiguous United States (US). We report a greater proportion of dogs carrying an A haplotype in Alaska relative to any other US population. Significant variation in the distribution of haplotype frequencies was discovered when comparing the haplotype diversity of dogs in Hawaii to that of the continental US. Each of these regions exhibits reduced genetic diversity relative to the contiguous US, likely due to founder effect. We recommend that specific databases be created to accurately represent the mitochondrial haplotype diversity in these remote areas. Furthermore, our work demonstrates the importance of local surveys for populations that may have experienced found effect.