When forensic cases arise where there is insufficient biological material for nuclear DNA typing, mitochondrial DNA analysis can provide valuable supplemental information, even from such limited samples as half-centimeter long hair fragments or single teeth. Because of its usefulness when limited biological material is available, and due to its unique pattern of maternal inheritance, mtDNA is playing a significant role in investigation and prosecution of active criminal cases, post-conviction exoneration, re-examination of cold cases, genealogical studies where maternal relatedness is in question, and missing persons investigations.
We invite you to read our summary of Mitochondrial DNA Basics for an excellent overview of how mitochondrial forensic analysis is carried out. This summary will answer most of the frequently asked questions that we receive.
For a very comprehensive scientific presentation of mitochondrial DNA analysis, we recommend the article titled: "Mitochondrial DNA sequence analysis: validation and use for forensic casework" by M.M. Holland and T.J. Parsons 1999, Forensic Science Review, volume 11, pages 25-51. Please see our web page titled Mitotyping Bibliography for other relevant references.
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