An inter-laboratory study of DNA-based identity, parentage and species testing in animal forensic genetics

Sreetharan Kanthaswamy, Torsten Brendel, Luis Cancela, Denise A. Andrade de Oliveira, Bertram Brenig, Carmen Cons, Julian A. Crespi, Markéta Dajbychová, Andreas Feldl, Tomohito Itoh, Vincenzo Landi, Amparo Martinez, Malgorzata Natonek-Wisniewska, Robert F. Oldt, Anna Radko, Oscar Ramírez, Clementina Rodellar, Manuel Ruiz-Girón, David Schikorski, María Elena TurbaGuillermo Giovambatista

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The probative value of animal forensic genetic evidence relies on laboratory accuracy and reliability. Inter-laboratory comparisons allow laboratories to evaluate their performance on specific tests and analyses and to continue to monitor their output. The International Society for Animal Genetics (ISAG) administered animal forensic comparison tests (AFCTs) in 2016 and 2018 to assess the limitations and capabilities of laboratories offering forensic identification, parentage and species determination services. The AFCTs revealed that analyses of low DNA template concentrations (≤300 pg/µL) constitute a significant challenge that has prevented many laboratories from reporting correct identification and parentage results. Moreover, a lack of familiarity with species testing protocols, interpretation guidelines and representative databases prevented over a quarter of the participating laboratories from submitting correct species determination results. Several laboratories showed improvement in their genotyping accuracy over time. However, the use of forensically validated standards, such as a standard forensic STR kit, preferably with an allelic ladder, and stricter guidelines for STR typing, may have prevented some common issues from occurring, such as genotyping inaccuracies, missing data, elevated stutter products and loading errors. The AFCTs underscore the importance of conducting routine forensic comparison tests to allow laboratories to compare results from each other. Laboratories should keep improving their scientific and technical capabilities and continuously evaluate their personnel’s proficiency in critical techniques such as low copy number (LCN) analysis and species testing. Although this is the first time that the ISAG has conducted comparison tests for forensic testing, findings from these AFCTs may serve as the foundation for continuous improvements of the overall quality of animal forensic genetic testing. Supplemental data for this article are available online at https://doi.org/10.1080/20961790.2021.1886679.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalForensic Sciences Research
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Forensic sciences
  • comparison test
  • forensic DNA analysis
  • forensic genetics
  • individual identification
  • parentage test
  • species test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Anthropology
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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