Forensic DNA Phenotyping refers to the prediction of appearance traits of unknown sample donors, or unknown deceased (missing) persons, directly from biological materials found at the scene. "Biological witness" outcomes of Forensic DNA Phenotyping can provide investigative leads to trace unknown persons, who are unidentifiable with current comparative DNA profiling. This intelligence application of DNA marks a substantially different forensic use of genetic material rather than that of current DNA profiling presented in the courtroom. Currently, group-specific pigmentation traits are already predictable from DNA with reasonably high accuracies, while several other externally visible characteristics are under genetic investigation. Until individual-specific appearance becomes accurately predictable from DNA, conventional DNA profiling needs to be performed subsequent to appearance DNA prediction. Notably, and where Forensic DNA Phenotyping shows great promise, this is on a (much) smaller group of potential suspects, who match the appearance characteristics DNA-predicted from the crime scene stain or from the deceased person's remains. Provided sufficient funding being made available, future research to better understand the genetic basis of human appearance will expectedly lead to a substantially more detailed description of an unknown person's appearance from DNA, delivering increased value for police investigations in criminal and missing person cases involving unknowns.
Keywords: Appearance; DNA intelligence; Externally visible traits; FDP; Forensic DNA Phenotyping; Physical traits.
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