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Sketching suspects with DNA, and using light to find Zika-infected mosquitoes

DNA fingerprinting has been used to link people to crimes for decades, by matching DNA from a crime scene to DNA extracted from a suspect. Now, investigators are using other parts of the genome—such as markers for hair and eye color—to help rule people in and out as suspects. Staff Writer Gretchen Vogel talks with Sarah Crespi about whether science supports this approach and how different countries are dealing with this new type of evidence. Sarah also talks with Jill Fernandes of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, about her Science Advances paper on a light-based technique for detecting Zika in mosquitoes. Instead of grinding up the bug and extracting Zika DNA, her group shines near-infrared light through the body. Mosquitoes carrying Zika transmit this light differently from uninfected ones. If it’s successful in larger trials, this technique could make large-scale surveillance of infected mosquitoes quicker and less expensive. In our monthly books segment, Jen Golbeck talks with author Sarah-Jayne Blakemore about her new work: Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain. You can check out more book reviews and share your thoughts on the Books et al. blog. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

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