The utility of short tandem repeat loci beyond human identification: Implications for development of new DNA typing systems

Ranajit Chakraborty, David N. Stivers, Birg Su, Yixi Zhong, Bruce Budowle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


Since the first characterization of the population genetic properties of repeat polymorphisms, the number of short tandem repeat (STR) loci validated for forensic use has now grown to at least 13. Worldwide variations of allele frequencies at these loci have been studied, showing that variations of interpopulation diversity at these loci do not compromise the power of identification of individuals. However, data collected for validation of these loci for forensic use has utility beyond human identification; the origin and past migration history of modem humans can be reconstructed from worldwide variations at these loci. Furthermore, complex forensic cases previously unresolvable can now be investigated with the help of the validated STR loci. Here, we provide the absolute power of the validated set of 13 STR loci for addressing these issues using multilocus genotype data on 1,401 individuals belonging to seven populations (US European-American, US African-American, Jamaican, Italian, Swiss, Chinese and Apache Native- American). Genomic research is discovering new classes of polymorphic loci (such as the single nucleotide polymorphisms, SNPs) and lineage markers (such as the mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome markers); our aim, therefore, was to determine how many SNP loci are needed to match the power of this set of 13 STR loci. We conclude that the current set of STR loci is adequate for addressing most problems of human identification (including interpretations of DNA mixtures). However, if suitable number of SNPs are used that would match the power of the STR loci, they alone cannot resolve more complex cases unless they are supplemented by the validated STR loci.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1682-1696
Number of pages15
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1999


  • DNA forensics
  • Evolutionary dynamics
  • Parentage testing
  • Repeat polymorphism
  • Review
  • Single nucleotide polymorphism


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