U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Does the Use of Probabilistic Genotyping Change the Way We Should View Sub-threshold Data?

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2017
15 pages
This study examined the occurrence of low-level DNA profile information, specifically that which falls below the analytical threshold, with a focus on how it can be dealt with and the consequences of each choice in the framework of continuous DNA profile interpretation systems; where appropriate, the study illustrated how these can be implemented using the probabilistic interpretation software STRmix.
The sensitivity and resolution of modern DNA profiling hardware is such that forensic laboratories generate more data than they have resources to analyze. One coping mechanism is to set a threshold above the minimum required by instrument noise, so that weak peaks are screened out. In binary interpretations of forensic profiles, the impact of this threshold (sometimes called an analytical threshold – AT) was minimal, as interpretations were often limited to a clear major component. With the introduction of continuous typing systems, the interpretation of weak minor components of mixed DNA profiles is possible; and consequently, the consideration of peaks just above or just below the analytical threshold becomes relevant. The current study demonstrated a feature of STRmix that enables the analyst to guide the software, using human observation that there is a low-level contributor present, through user-designated prior distributions for contributor mixture proportions. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2017