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An Information Gap in DNA Evidence Interpretation

NCJ Number
PLoS ONE Volume: Online Dated: 2009
Date Published

In this paper, the authors examine the information extracted by quantitative and qualitative DNA interpretation methods; the overall aim of the study was to compare the relative efficacy of newer quantitative computer-based methods of DNA mixture interpretation to current qualitative manual methods. 


Forensic DNA evidence often contains mixtures of multiple contributors or is present in low template amounts. The resulting data signals may appear to be relatively uninformative when interpreted using qualitative inclusion-based methods. However, these same data can yield greater identification information when interpreted by computer using quantitative data-modeling methods. This study applies both qualitative and quantitative interpretation methods to a well-characterized DNA mixture and dilution data set and compares the inferred match information. The results show that qualitative interpretation loses identification power at low culprit DNA quantities (below 100 pg), but that quantitative methods produce useful information down into the 10 pg range. Thus, there is a ten-fold information gap that separates the qualitative and quantitative DNA mixture interpretation approaches. With low quantities of culprit DNA (10 pg to 100 pg), computer-based quantitative interpretation provides greater match sensitivity. (Published Abstracts Provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2009