In the Space SE question Why were blood and hair follicles from 25 people put on the Moon? I wrote

It sounds more like a potential plot for a future CSI Spaceforce episode.

That got me thinking, so I'd like to ask when was DNA evidence from a crime investigation in space first used in a SciFi plot?

If the answer is not from then "bonus points" for the first TOS use of DNA evidence.

For a real-world timeline reference, the famous paper A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid (non-paywalled copy) was published in 1953, though the details and credit due is a separate topic of discussion.

  • 3
    DNA was known to be genetic material before the structure was determined, so a pre-1953 date is conceivable.
    – Jon Custer
    Aug 11, 2019 at 16:03
  • @JonCuster for sure. That was included only to remind people that the basic idea of storage of genetic information in molecules is a lot older than their favorite CSI TV show.
    – uhoh
    Aug 11, 2019 at 23:05
  • 2
    It is unlikely that DNA evidence would have been used as early as TOS. It was not used in the courts until the mid or late 1980's, if I am not mistaken. The most likely TOS candidates for using DNA evidence, Wolf in the Fold and The Conscience of the King, do not mention it.
    – Basya
    Aug 13, 2019 at 8:16
  • 2
    True. But SF authors think of some concepts before they are used in reality; in many cases, though, there is something in reality that is close enough to help them think of it. Again, though, I do not believe it appeared in TOS (speaking of the show, not the movies.) I looked through transcripts of the most likely episodes, mentioned above; there is no mention of it. The Conscience of the King plot would make little sense if they could have identified the body, which was burned beyond recognition, using DNA.
    – Basya
    Aug 13, 2019 at 9:19
  • 1
    memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/DNA - no mention in TOS
    – NKCampbell
    Jan 22, 2020 at 23:45

1 Answer 1


This may not be exactly what you seek (or the earliest for that matter) but the plot of the 1977 John Varley novel The Ophiuchi Hotline hinges on the protagonist being convicted of using human DNA in her work. "DNA evidence" (the fact that she is caught with human DNA) is used to convict her. She lives on the Moon so hopefully that counts as "in space."

The file was started on Lilo when CCR computers noticed she had been dealing with Ophiuchi Hotline data tagged by analysis as probably related to human DNA.

(first page of chapter 1)

real world: This Time article claims DNA testing started to be used by law enforcement in 1985.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.