Working Paper Review Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

DNA Based Methods in Intelligence - Moving Towards Metagenomics

Version 1 : Received: 11 February 2020 / Approved: 12 February 2020 / Online: 12 February 2020 (12:21:43 CET)

How to cite: Mason-Buck, G.; Graf, A.; Elhaik, E.; Robinson, J.; Pospiech, E.; Oliveira, M.; Moser, J.; Lee, P.K.H.; Githae, D.; Ballard, D.; Bromberg, Y.; Casimiro-Soriguer, C.S.; Dhungel, E.; Ahn, T.; Kawulok, J.; Loucera, C.; Ryan, F.; Walker, A.R.; Zhu, C.; Mason, C.E.; Amorim, A.; Syndercombe Court, D.; Branicki, W.; Labaj, P. DNA Based Methods in Intelligence - Moving Towards Metagenomics. Preprints 2020, 2020020158 Mason-Buck, G.; Graf, A.; Elhaik, E.; Robinson, J.; Pospiech, E.; Oliveira, M.; Moser, J.; Lee, P.K.H.; Githae, D.; Ballard, D.; Bromberg, Y.; Casimiro-Soriguer, C.S.; Dhungel, E.; Ahn, T.; Kawulok, J.; Loucera, C.; Ryan, F.; Walker, A.R.; Zhu, C.; Mason, C.E.; Amorim, A.; Syndercombe Court, D.; Branicki, W.; Labaj, P. DNA Based Methods in Intelligence - Moving Towards Metagenomics. Preprints 2020, 2020020158

Abstract

Advancements in DNA methods and biotechnology have enabled forensic scientists to explore the DNA evidence found as part of a criminal investigation on a much more comprehensive and predictive level. This has led to a rise in research into DNA intelligence tools such as phenotypic prediction (i.e., eye and hair colour) and inference of biogeographical ancestry. Both of which can be applied to gain further insights about a scene or sample in question. Although microorganisms have played a role in forensics for decades, investigations were focused on the pathogenicity aspect, mainly to determine the cause and time of death. Recent progress in studying the human microbiome has implicated the potential use of this data in forensics. Since each individual, place, or item has its own microbial pattern, a new suite of tools are now available to be exploited in criminal investigations. Although there is much interest and potential for these emerging metagenomic and microbial forensic tools, best practices and reference ranges need to be established before they are implemented. Here, we discuss existing DNA intelligence tools applied to forensic science, the application of microbial forensics and metagenomics along with the challenges and concerns that future developments entail.

Subject Areas

forensic; metagenomics

Comments (1)

Comment 1
Received: 24 February 2020
Commenter: Debbie Kennett
The commenter has declared there is no conflict of interests.
Comment: Thank you for publishing your interesting preprint. I wanted to make a few comments about the Geographic Population Structure tool which you discuss on page 8. I hope you will find these comments useful.

You cite two papers (Elhaik et al 2014 and Marshall et al 2017) which appear to testify to its efficacy. However, the methodology behind the Geographical Population Structure tool was critiqued by Flegontov et al in 2017. A further critique of this method was published by Dr Andrew Millard. These limitations really need to be highlighted.

There is a reference on page 8 to a GPS Origins test which is marketed by the commercial company Home DNA and this test is cited as reference 73. Concerns about the results obtained from the GPS Origins tests were highlighted in the Radio 4 programme The Business of Genetic Ancestry. See also this review from PC World. In view of the severe limitations of this test it would seem inappropriate to reference it in an academic paper.

The use of ancestry informative markers is now somewhat dated. It would be helpful to highlight in the paper more advanced haplotype-based methods of ancestry inference. See for example

Cheung 2019 Gilbert et al 2017 Han et al 2017 Winney et al 2015.
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