A number of recent improvements have provided contemporary forensic investigations with a variety of tools to improve the analysis of mixed DNA samples in criminal investigations, producing notable improvements in the analysis of complex trace samples in cases of sexual assult and homicide. Mixed DNA contains DNA from two or more contributors, compounding DNA analysis by combining DNA from one or more major contributors with small amounts of DNA from potentially numerous minor contributors. These samples are characterized by a high probability of drop-out or drop-in combined with elevated stutter, significantly increasing analysis complexity. At some loci, minor contributor alleles may be completely obscured due to amplification bias or over-amplification, creating the illusion of additional contributors. Thus, estimating the number of contributors and separating contributor genotypes at a given locus is significantly more difficult in mixed DNA samples, requiring the application of specialized protocols that have only recently been widely commercialized and standardized. Over the last decade, the accuracy and repeatability of mixed DNA analyses available to conventional forensic laboratories has greatly advanced in terms of laboratory technology, mathematical models and biostatistical software, generating more accurate, rapid and readily available data for legal proceedings and criminal cases.
The review article is published in Biomedical Reports and is free to access.