Inferring recent human phylogenies using forensic STR technology

Forensic Sci Int. 2003 May 5;133(3):260-5. doi: 10.1016/s0379-0738(03)00073-2.


STR loci are characterized by extremely high mutation rates and thus, high levels of length polymorphism both within and among populations. In addition, much of the observed variation is believed to be nearly selectively neutral. Because of these features, STRs are ideal markers for genetic mapping, intra-species phylogenetic reconstructions and forensic analysis. In the present study, we investigate the application of five STR loci (CS1PO, TH01, TPOX, FGA and vWA) routinely used in forensic analysis for delineating the phylogenetic relationships of 10 human populations representing the three major racial groups (African-Caribbean, Croatian from the island of Hvar, East Asian, Han Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, UK Caucasian, US Caucasian and Zimbabwe). The resulting tree topology exhibited strong geographic and racial partitioning consistent with that obtained with mtDNA haplotypes, Y-chromosome markers, SNPs, PAIs (polymorphic Alu insertions) as well as classic genetic polymorphisms. These findings suggest that forensic STR loci may be particularly powerful tools and provide the necessary fine resolution for the reconstruction of recent human evolutionary history.

MeSH terms

  • Continental Population Groups / genetics*
  • DNA Fingerprinting / methods
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Humans
  • Phylogeny*
  • Tandem Repeat Sequences*