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Forensic samples that contain too little template DNA or are too degraded require alternate genetic marker analyses or approaches to what is currently used for routine casework. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) offer promise to support forensic DNA analyses because of an abundance of potential markers, amenability to automation, and potential reduction in required fragment length to only 60-80 bp. The SNP markers will serve an important role in analyzing challenging forensic samples, such as those that are very degraded, for augmenting the power of kinship analyses and family reconstructions for missing persons and unidentified human remains, as well as for providing investigative lead value in some cases without a suspect (and no genetic profile match in CODIS). The SNPs for forensic analyses can be divided into four categories: identity-testing SNPs; lineage informative SNPs; ancestry informative SNPs; and phenotype informative SNPs. In addition to discussing the applications of these different types of SNPs, this article provides some discussion on privacy issues so that society and policymakers can be more informed.
This document has been peer reviewed.