Verification of eye and skin color predictors in various populations.
Validation of testing methods is an essential feature in all scientific endeavors, but it is particularly important in forensics. Due to the sensitive nature of these investigations and the limited sample size it is crucial to validate all employed procedures. This includes novel forensic phenotypic DNA tests, to learn more of their capabilities and limitations before incorporating them as routine methods. Ideally, validations are performed on large sample sets that mimic real cases. Recently, three phenotypic predictors, two for eye colors and one for skin color have been published (Spichenok et al., 2011; Walsh et al., 2011). These predictors are well-defined by a selection of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and unambiguous instructions on how to interpret the genotypes. These standardized approaches have the advantages that they can be applied in diverse laboratories leading to the same outcome and offer the opportunity for validation. For these tests to be used on the characterization of human remains, they should be validated on various populations to perform reliably without prior knowledge of ethnic origin. Here, in this study, these eye and skin color predictors were validated on new sample sets and it could be confirmed that they can be applied in various populations, including African-American, South Asian (dark), East Asian (light), European, and mixed populations. The outputs were either predictive or inconclusive. Predictions were then compared against the actual eye and skin colors of the tested individuals. The error-rates varied; they were low for the predictors that describe the eye and skin color exclusively (non-brown or non-blue and non-white or non-dark, respectively) and higher for the predictor that describes individual eye colors (blue, brown, and intermediate/green), because of uncertainties with the green eye color prediction. Our investigation deepens the insight for these predictors and adds new information. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.