The study of DNA to predict externally visible characteristics (EVCs) and the biogeographical ancestry (BGA) from unknown samples is gaining relevance in forensic genetics. Technical developments in Massively Parallel Sequencing (MPS) enable the simultaneous analysis of hundreds of DNA markers, which improves successful Forensic DNA Phenotyping (FDP). The EU-funded VISAGE (VISible Attributes through GEnomics) Consortium has developed various targeted MPS-based lab tools to apply FDP in routine forensic analyses. Here, we present an evaluation of the VISAGE Basic tool for appearance and ancestry prediction based on PowerSeq chemistry (Promega) on a MiSeq FGx System (Illumina). The panel consists of 153 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that provide information about EVCs (41 SNPs for eye, hair and skin color from HIrisPlex-S) and continental BGA (115 SNPs; three overlap with the EVCs SNP set). The assay was evaluated for sensitivity, repeatability and genotyping concordance, as well as its performance with casework-type samples. This targeted MPS assay provided complete genotypes at all 153 SNPs down to 125 pg of input DNA and 99.67% correct genotypes at 50 pg. It was robust in terms of repeatability and concordance and provided useful results with casework-type samples. The results suggest that this MPS assay is a useful tool for basic appearance and ancestry prediction in forensic genetics for users interested in applying PowerSeq chemistry and MiSeq for this purpose.

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Keywords forensic DNA phenotyping, appearance, ancestry, BGA, HIrisPlex-S, EVC prediction, phenotype prediction, DNA phenotyping, PowerSeq, VISAGE
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Journal Genes
Palencia-Madrid, L., Xavier, C, de La Puente, M., Hohoff, C, Phillips, C., Kayser, M.H, & Parson, W. (2020). Evaluation of the VISAGE Basic Tool for Appearance and Ancestry Prediction Using PowerSeq Chemistry on the MiSeq FGx System. Genes, 11(6). doi:10.3390/genes11060708