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 Prof. Maria Eugenia D’Amato

Position: Professor
Department: Department of Biotechnology
Faculty: Faculty of Natural Science
Qualifications: Lic. In Biology (National University of La Plata, Argentina); PhD (University of Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Tel: 021 959 3372
Fax: 021 959 3505


 I conducted my undergraduate studies at the National University of La Plata, Argentina, where I got my degree in Biology. I completed my PhD studies at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), at the forensic lab directed by Prof. D. Corach. My postgraduate studies were focused on the evolutionary analysis of repeated DNA sequences in South American endemic crustaceans. As a postdoc I gained experience in molecular population genetics in a wide diversity of aquatic organisms at the University of Hull (UH) (UK), University of the Western Cape (BCB now, then Zoology Department) and University of Stellenbosch, and in the analysis of archived, highly degraded DNA (UH). In 2006 I joined the Forensic DNA Lab at the UWC. My training in population genetics facilitated the design of the above mentioned Y-chromosome “kit” and the analysis and successful identification of various individuals from highly degraded DNA.  Currently I participate in numerous genotyping international forensic collaborations.
 I belong to the Working Committee for Innocence Project South Africa (IPSA) (




  • Purps J, Siegert S, Willuweit S, Marion Nagy, Alves C, et al (2014)  A global analysis of Y-chromosomal haplotype diversity for 23 STR loci. Forensic Science International: Genetics  01/201 (Epub ahead of printing)

  • Ballantyne KN, Ralf A, Aboukhalid R, Achakzai NM, Anjos MJ, Ayub Q, et al. (2014) Towards male individualization with rapidly mutating Y-chromosomal STRs Hum Mutat. 2014 Jun 10. doi: 10.1002/humu.22599. [Epub ahead of print]


  • D’Amato ME, Davison S, Corach D (2013) Meat trade: need for international standardization? Forensic Science International: Genetics Supplement Series 4: e328-329.

  • D'Amato ME, Alechine E, Cloete KW, Davison S, Corach D (2013) Where is the game? Wild meat products authentication in South Africa: a case study. Investig Genet 2013; 4(1):6.

  • Harkins GW, D’Amato ME, Gibbons M (2013) Self-maintaining or continuously refreshed? The genetic structure of Euphausia lucens populations in the Benguela upwelling ecosystem.  J. Plankton Res. 5: 982-992.


  • Bester-Van Der Merwe AE, D’Amato ME, Swart BL, Roodt-Wilding R. (2012) Molecular phylogeny of South African abalone, its origin and evolution as revealed by two genes. Marine Biology Research 8: 727-736.



  • Batini C, Ferri G, Destro-Bisol G, Brisighelli F, Luiselli D, Sánchez-Diz P, Rocha J, Simonson T, Brehm A, Montano V, Elwali NE, Spedini G, D'Amato ME, Myres N, Ebbesen P, Comas D, Capelli C (2011) Signatures of the preagricultural peopling processes in sub-saharan Africa as revealed by the phylogeography of early y chromosome lineages. Molecular Biology and  Evolution 28: 2603-2613.

  • Bester-Van Der Merwe AE, Roodt-Wilding R, Volckaert FAM, D’Amato ME (2011) Hydrodynamically constrained gene flow in declining populations of the South-African abalone, Haliotis midae. Conservation Genetics, 12: 543-555.

  • D’Amato ME, Bajic V, Davison S. (2011) Developmental validation of a 10-Y STR highly discriminatory multiplex for forensic casework in South Africa. Forensic Science International Genetics 5: 212-215.

  • Abrahams Z, D’Amato ME, Davison S, Benjeddou M (2011). Allele frequencies of six non-CODIS miniSTR loci (D1S1627, D3S4529, D5S2500, D6S1017, D8S1115 and D9S2157) in three South African populations.  Forensic Science International Genetics 5:354-355.


  • Koen C, D’Amato ME (2010).Simulation of Y-chromosomal haplotype data. Mathematical Biosciences. 224: 24–28.

  • D’Amato ME, Ehrenreich L, Cloete K, Benjeddou M, Davison S (2010) Characterization of the highly discriminatory loci DYS449, DYS481, DYS518, DYS612, DYS626, DYS644 and DYS710. Forensic Science International Genetics 4:  104–110.

  • Cloete K, Ehrenreich L, D’Amato ME, Leat N, Davison S, Benjeddou M.  (2010). Analysis of nine Y-chromosome STR loci in the Cape Muslim population of South Africa Legal Medicine 12: 42–45.


  • D’Amato ME, Benjeddou M, Davison S (2009) Evaluation of 21 Y-STRs for population and forensic studies. Forensic Science International: Genetics Supplement Series 2: 446–447.

  • Slabbert R, Bester A, D’Amato ME (2009) Analyses of genetic diversity and parentage within a South African hatchery of the abalone Haliotis midae Linnaeus using microsatellite markers. Journal of Shellfish Research: 28: 369-375.


  • Davison S, Benjeddou M, D’Amato ME (2008). Molecular genetic identification of skeletal remains of apartheid activists in South Africa. African Journal of Biotechnology 7: 4750-4757.

  • D’Amato ME, Harkins GW, de Oliveira T, Teske PR, Gibbons MJ (2008) Molecular dating and biogeography of the neritic euphausiid genus Nyctiphanes. Mar Biol 155: 243-247.

  • D’Amato ME, Ehrenreich L, Benjeddou M, Davison S, Leat N (2008). Ancestry and genetic relationships between groups within the Cape Town metropolitan population inferred using Y-STRs genotyping. Forensic Science International: Genetics Supplement Series 1:318-319.

  • Ehrenreich L, Benjeddou M, Davison S, D’Amato ME, Leat N (2008) Nine-locus Y-STR profiles of Afrikaner Caucasian and mixed ancestry populations from Cape Town, South Africa. Legal Medicine 10: 225-227.

  • Pérez-Barros P, D’Amato ME, Lovrich G. (2008) Taxonomic status of two South American sympatric squat lobsters, Munida gregaria and M. subrugosa (Crustacea: Decapoda: Galatehidae), challenged by DNA sequence information. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 94: 421–434.

2007 and previous.

  • D’Amato ME, Esterhuyse MM, van der Waal B, Brink D, Voelckaert P (2007). Hybridization of the Mozambique tilapia Oreochromis Mossambicus in southern Africa evidenced by microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA genotyping. Conservation Genetics 8: 475–488.

  • D’Amato ME. (2006) Demographical expansion and subtle differentiation in the long tailed hake Macruronus magellanicus: evidence from microsatellite data. Marine Biotechnology 8: 189-201.

  • Hughes RN, D’Amato ME, Bishop JDD, Carvalho GR, Craig SF, Hansson LJ, Harley MA Pemberton AJ. (2005) Paradoxical polyembryony? Embryonic cloning in an ancient order of marine bryozoans. Biology Letters 1:178-180.

  • D’Amato ME, Carvalho GR (2005). Population genetic structure and history of the long-tailed hake, Macruronus magellanicus, in the SW Atlantic as revealed by mtDNA RFLP analysis. ICES Journal of Marine Sciences 62:247-255.

  • Bester A, Slabbert R, D’Amato ME (2004). Isolation and characterization of microsatellite markers for the abalone Haliotis midae. Molecular Ecology Notes 4:618-619.

  • Lesia M, Hofmeyr MD, D’Amato ME (2003). Genetic variation of three Chersina angulata (angulate tortoise) populations along the West Coast of South Africa. African Zoology 38: 109-117.

  • Craig S, D’Amato ME, Harley M, Bishop J, Carvalho GR, Hughes R (2001) Microsatellite markers for Crisia denticulata (Bryozoa, Cyclostomata). Molecular Ecology Notes 1: 281-282.

  • D’Amato ME, Lunt DH, Carvalho GR (1999). Microsatellite markers for the hake Macruronus magellanicus amplify other gadoids. Molecular Ecology 8: 1086-1088.

  • D’Amato ME, Corach D (1997c). Repetitive DNA sequences as an insight to Aeglidae (Crustacea, Anomura) evolution. Electrophoresis 18: 1666-1671.

  • D’Amato ME, Corach D (1997b). Population genetic structure in the fresh-water anomuran Aegla jujuyana by RAPD analysis. Journal of Crustacean Biology 17: 269-274.

  • D’Amato ME, Corach D (1997a). Highly repetitive DNA sequences unique to Aeglidae (Anomura). Journal of Crustacean Biology 17: 184-191.

  • D’Amato ME, Corach D (1996). Genetic diversity of the fresh-water shrimp Macrobrachium borellii (Caridea, Palaemonidae) evaluated by RAPD analysis. Journal of Crustacean Biology 16: 650-655





 Member of
• International Society for Forensic Genetics
• South Africa Society of Human Genetics

National collaborators
• Mario Jonas and Allan Christoffels, SANBI (UWC).

International collaborators
• Professors Anders Johannes Hansen and Eske Willerslev : Centre for GeoGenetics, University of Copenhagen, University of Copenhagen (Denmark) (;.
• Professors Graciela Bailliet and Claudio Bravi: IMBICE (Argentina)  Grupo Genetica Molecular Poblacional. (
• Professor Daniel Corach:  SHDG, Facultad de Farmacia y Bioquimica, University of Buenos Aires (Argentine) (
• Professor Lutz Roewer: Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences, Univerity of Berlin (Germany).
• Manfred Kayser: Erasmus University, Department of Forensic Molecular Biology, (The Netherlands).
• Leonor Gusmão, IPATIMUP, University of Porto (Portugal) (

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