Forensic genetics is the branch of genetics that, through DNA analysis and comparison, deals with the resolution of legal problems such as paternity tests. Recently, it has been proposed that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) could be used as a new genetic marker in the field eventually even replacing the methods/markers now employed. But in an article just published online in Forensic Science International, a team of scientists challenges the effectiveness of SNPs in kinship studies predicting an increase in inconclusive cases when these markers are used.
In forensic genetics, DNA samples are analysed through the comparison of particular DNA sequences unique to each individual. In fact, although more than 99% of the genome is the same across the human population, variations in DNA sequence called polymorphisms can be used to both differentiate and correlate individuals.
Short Tandem Repeats (STRs) are the genetic markers most commonly used in this moment by forensic scientists. STRs consist of repetitive segments of DNA two to five nucleotides (DNA building blocks) length found throughout the genome with different individuals having different STRs combinations.
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