FLN-TWG: Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) for DNA Analysis

FLN-TWG: Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) for DNA Analysis

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Forensic Laboratory Needs Technology Working Group (FLN-TWG)

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), in partnership with the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) at RTI International, formed the Forensic Laboratory Needs Technology Working Group (FLN-TWG). The FLN-TWG supports NIJ’s mission to improve knowledge and understanding of the forensic technology needs of federal, state, local, and tribal forensic practitioners and crime laboratories.

Implementation Strategies: Next Generation Sequencing for DNA Analysis

Report Date

September 2021


Modern sequencing technology offers several enhancements over traditional DNA analysis methods: parallel analysis of multiple marker types; improved performance with degraded DNA; increased discrimination power and mixture resolution capability through Short Tandem Repeats (STR) sequence variant detection; capability to infer phenotype, ancestry, genealogy, or parentage; and other applications. The massive sequence output of next generation sequencing (NGS) instruments may be divided among many samples for routine testing (i.e., databasing) or focused to analyze a small number of challenging evidence samples for comprehensively analyzing many marker types. Two platforms have kits that have received acceptance for use in National DNA Index System (NDIS) submissions and thus dominate the forensic DNA landscape: the Ion Torrent S5 (Thermo Fisher Scientific) and the MiSeq FGx (Verogen, Inc.). Capital equipment acquisition cost is approximately $150,000 with annual maintenance agreement costs of approximately $15,000. Increased complexity, reagent costs, and labor input may limit NGS use to challenging cases where augmentation of current STR typing methods is needed. Higher throughput usage may necessitate automation of sample preparation and add requirements for large-scale data storage infrastructure.

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