Reliable Human Identification from Single Rootless Hairs

Wednesday November 2nd, 2022 // 1:30 pm - 1:50 pm // Woodrow Wilson Ballroom

A wide variety of DNA-containing samples have been used for forensic purposes. Despite its common occurrence at crime scenes and with unidentified remains, rootless hair is generally considered a poor source of DNA for forensic analysis.


We present the results of (1) a comprehensive survey of the amount and characteristics of fragmented DNA present in rootless hair from a large panel of human subjects, (2) a genotype calling strategy designed for the DNA information available from single rootless hairs, enabling forensic genetic genealogy from single rootless hairs, and (3) a technique for comparing the genetic information from a single hair to DNA obtained from a suspect. This technique is capable of confirming or rejecting if the suspect matches the hair with P-values greater than what is obtainable by traditional STR-markers, using samples that are insufficient for PCR-based STR-typing.


We will demonstrate how this approach has been applied in casework allowing the DNA from a single crime-scene hair to identify a suspect using forensic genetic genealogy and test the suspect’s DNA via direct comparison to the hair DNA. We will also discuss technical limitations and other important caveats.



Private: Ed Green

University of California, Santa Cruz, Dovetail Genomics, Claret Bio, Astrea Forensics

Ed Green received his B.S. in Genetics at the University of Georgia in 1997 and Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2005. He was a pioneer in the field of high-throughput sequencing of ancient DNA as the lead bioinformatics scientist on the Neanderthal genome project. He is currently Professor of Biomolecular Engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz and founder of Dovetail Genomics, Claret Bio, and Astrea Forensics.

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