Addressing the use of phylogenetics for identification of sequences in error in the SWGDAM mitochondrial DNA database

Bruce Budowle, Deborah Polanskey, Marc W. Allard, Ranajit Chakraborty

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The SWGDAM mtDNA database is a publicly available reference source that is used for estimating the rarity of an evidence mtDNA profile. Because of the current processes for generating population data, it is unlikely that population databases are error free. The majority of the errors are due to human error and are transcriptional in nature. Phylogenetic analysis of data sets can identify some potential errors, and coupled with a review of the sequence data or alignment sheets can be a very useful tool. Seven sequences with errors have been identified by phylogenetic analysis. In addition, two samples were inadvertently modified when placed in the SWGDAM database. The corrected sequences are provided so that users can modify appropriately the current iteration of the SWGDAM database. From a practical perspective, upper bound estimates of the percentage of matching profiles obtained from a database search containing an incorrect sequence and those of a database containing the corrected sequence are not substantially different. Community wide access and review has enabled identification of errors in the SWGDAM data set and will continue to do so. The result of public accessibility is that the quality of the SWGDAM forensic dataset is always improving.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1256-1261
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2004


  • Forensic science
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Phylogenetics
  • SWGDAM database
  • Sequence error


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