Fixed-bin analysis for statistical evaluation of continuous distributions of allelic data from VNTR loci, for use in forensic comparisons.
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The detection of DNA polymorphisms by RFLP analysis is having a major impact on identity testing in forensic science. At present, this approach is the best effort a forensic scientist can make to exclude an individual who has been falsely associated with an evidentiary sample found at a crime scene. When an analysis fails to exclude a suspect as a potential contributor of an evidentiary sample, a means should be provided to assess suitable weight to the putative match. Most important, the statistical analysis should not place undue weight on a genetic profile derived from an unknown sample that is attributed to an accused individual. The method must allow for limitations in conventional agarose-submarine-gel electrophoresis and Southern blotting procedure, limited sample population data, possible subpopulation differences, and potential sampling error. A conservative statistical method was developed based on arbitrarily defined fixed bins. This approach permits classification of continuous allelic data, provides for a simple and portable data-base system, and is unlikely to underestimate the frequency of occurrence of a set of alleles. This will help ensure that undue weight is not placed on a sample attributed to an accused individual.
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