A practical guide to mitochondrial DNA error prevention in clinical, forensic, and population genetics

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2005 Sep 30;335(3):891-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2005.07.161.


Several suggestions have been made for avoiding errors in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequencing and documentation. Unfortunately, the current clinical, forensic, and population genetic literature on mtDNA still delivers a large number of studies with flawed sequence data, which, in extreme cases, damage the whole message of a study. The phylogenetic approach has been shown to be useful for pinpointing most of the errors. However, many geneticists, especially in the forensic and medical fields, are not familiar with either effective search strategies or the evolutionary terminology. We here provide a manual that should help prevent errors at any stage by re-examining data fresh from the sequencer in the light of previously published data. A fictitious case study of a European mtDNA data set (albeit composed from the literature) then demonstrates the steps one has to go through in order to assess the quality of sequencing and documentation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Forensic Sciences*
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / standards*


  • DNA, Mitochondrial