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Mitochondrial DNA Variation in North American Populations of Forensic Interest, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1999
7 pages
A database of 2,000 mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) types in North American populations was created and used to assess the amount of variation and the degree of subpopulation heterogeneity within the three major racial groups: black, white, and Hispanic Americans.
The project was based on the need in forensic cases to assess the likelihood that individuals other than the person being considered would have matching DNA profiles in a particular cases. The method used involved detecting variation by hybridization with sequence-specific oligonucleotide (SSO) probes. Types of mtDNA wre determined for 805 African-American persons from 10 populations, 922 white persons from 11 populations, and 555 Hispanic Americans from 7 populations. Results revealed a high level of variation in almost all populations. This finding indicated that mtDNA analysis would probably be informative in forensic casework, because the chance that unrelated individuals would have matching mtDNA types was less than 5 percent. Moreover, this finding was based on SSO-type determination, which indicated only a fraction of the total variation. Using the usual method of sequence analysis should reveal even higher levels of variation. Findings also indicated that it is appropriate to use mtDNA type databases for each racial group that combine all the populations together. The mtDNA SSO-type databases will be made available publicly via the Internet.

Date Published: January 1, 1999