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.
LIFE SCIENCES, Genetics
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