Dr Jon Wetton

Jon has been developing and validating genetic profiling tools for population structure and individual identity for >30 years, including the first published application of DNA fingerprinting to wild animals, and the creation of suites of minisatellite probes and STRs which were applied in population surveys and forensic casework. As a senior researcher at the Forensic Science Service (FSS) for 13 years, he led a team developing sensitive species- and matriline-identification tests based on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), and validated Y-SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) and Y-STR (short tandem repeat) tests for human casework. He also developed low-copy number (LCN) autosomal STR mixture interpretation, and invented novel DNA taggants for security applications. Following the FSS closure Jon moved to Leicester to pursue his interest in applying genetic markers to tracing historical population migrations as part of the Leverhulme-Trust-Funded Diasporas Program. He was invited by Hampshire Police to create a cat mitochondrial DNA database to evaluate the significance of hairs found on a murder victim that genetically matched the suspect’s pet.

He is currently Co-Director of the Alec Jeffreys Forensic Genomics Unit (AJFGU) working full time on a number of forensic projects (see sidebar).

PhD opportunity
Combatting Illegal Trade in Animal Products by Rapid On-Site DNA Sequencing



Times Higher Education Award for The Research Project of the Year: Arts, Humanities and Social Science


DNA Fingerprinting recreated to help solve 30 year old rape case


Species ID methods showcased at International Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference



Selected publications

  • LL Smith, HD Flowe, JH Wetton, MA Jobling (2018) http://theconversation.com/innovative-dna-recovery-techniques-could-help-victims-catch-rapists-in-kenya-107618
  • TI Huszar, MA Jobling, JH Wetton (2018) A phylogenetic framework facilitates Y-STR variant discovery and classification via massively parallel sequencing.  Forensic Science International: Genetics 35, 97-106
  • N Poriswanish, R Neumann, JH Wetton, MHD Larmuseau, J Wagstaff, MA. Jobling, CA May (2018) Recombination hotspots in an extended human pseudoautosomal domain predicted from double-strand break maps and characterized by sperm-based crossover analysis. PLOS Genetics
  • YM Khubrani, JH Wetton, MA Jobling (2018) Extensive geographical and social structure in the paternal lineages of Saudi Arabia revealed by analysis of 27 Y-STRs. Forensic Science International: Genetics 33, 98-105
  • C Batini, P Hallast, ÅJ Vågene, D Zadik, HA Eriksen, H Pamjav, A Sajantila, JH Wetton, MA Jobling (2017) Population resequencing of European mitochondrial genomes highlights sex-bias in Bronze Age demographic expansion. Scientific reports 7 (1), 12086
  • LL Smith, JH Wetton, GKM Lall, HD Flowe, MA Jobling (2017)​ Forensic science and the right to access to justice: Testing the efficacy of self-examination intimate DNA swabs to enhance victim-centred responses to sexual violence in low-resource environments. Science and Justice 57 (5), 331-335
  • Ottolini B, Matharu Lall G, Sacchini F, Jobling MA, Wetton JH (2017) Application of a mitochondrial DNA control region frequency database for UK domestic cats. Forensic Sci. Internat. Genet., 27(March), pp.149-155.
  • Hallast P, Batini C, Zadik D, Delser PM, Wetton JH, et al. (2015) The Y-chromosome tree bursts into leaf: 13,000 high-confidence SNPs covering the majority of known clades. Mol. Biol. Evol. 32: 661-673.
  • Purps J, et al. (2014) A global analysis of Y-chromosomal haplotype diversity for 23 STR loci. Forensic Sci. Internat. Genet. 12: 12-23.
  • Tully G & Wetton JH (2014) Mitochondrial DNA: Interpretation. In Wiley Encyclopedia of Forensic Science. Eds. A Jamieson & AA Moenssens, J Wiley & Sons.
  • Wetton JH, Lee-Edghill J, Archer E, Tucker VC, Hopwood AJ, Whitaker J & Tully G (2011) Analysis and interpretation of mixed profiles generated by 34 cycle SGM Plus amplification. Forensic Sci. Internat. Genet. 5: 376-380.
  • Dawnay N, Ogden R, Wetton JH, Thorpe RS, & McEwing R (2009) Genetic data from 28 STR loci for forensic individual identification and parentage analyses in 6 bird of prey species. Forensic Sci. Internat. Genet. 3: e63-e69.
  • Wetton JH, Tsang KW & Khan H (2005) Inferring the population of origin of DNA evidence within the UK by allele-specific hybridization of Y-SNPs . Forensic Sci. Internat.152 (1), 45-53
  • Wetton JH, Higgs JE, Spriggs AC, Roney CA, Tsang CSF & Foster AP (2003) Mitochondrial profiling of dog hairs. Forensic Sci. Internat. 133: 235-241.
  • Wetton JH, Tsang CSF, Roney CA & Spriggs AC (2002) An extremely sensitive species-specific ARMS PCR test for the presence of tiger bone DNA. Forensic Sci. Internat. 126: 137-144.
  • Wetton JH & Parkin DT (1997) A suite of falcon single‐locus minisatellite probes: a powerful alternative to DNA fingerprinting.  Molecular Ecology 6 (2), 119-128
  • Neumann K & Wetton JH (1996) Highly polymorphic microsatellites in the house sparrow (Passer domesticus). Mol. Ecol. 5: 307-309.
  • Wetton JH, Parkin DT & Carter RE (1992) The use of genetic markers for parentage analysis in Passer domesticus (house sparrows). Heredity 69: 243-254.
  • Wetton JH, Carter RE, Parkin DT & Walters D (1987) Demographic study of a wild house sparrow population by DNA fingerprinting. Nature 327: 147-149.

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