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Forensic Sci Int Genet. 2011 Nov;5(5):472-8. doi: 10.1016/j.fsigen.2010.10.005. Epub 2010 Nov 2.

Prediction of eye and skin color in diverse populations using seven SNPs.

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Office of Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York, Department of Forensic Biology, 421 East 26th Street, New York, NY, USA.


An essential component in identifying human remains is the documentation of the decedent's visible characteristics, such as eye, hair and skin color. However, if a decedent is decomposed or only skeletal remains are found, this critical, visibly identifying information is lost. It would be beneficial to use genetic information to reveal these visible characteristics. In this study, seven single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), located in and nearby genes known for their important role in pigmentation, were validated on 554 samples, donated from non-related individuals of various populations. Six SNPs were used in predicting the eye color of an individual, and all seven were used to describe the skin coloration. The outcome revealed that these markers can be applied to all populations with very low error rates. However, the call-rate to determine the skin coloration varied between populations, demonstrating its complexity. Overall, these results prove the importance of these seven SNPs for potential forensic tests.

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