On the probability of matching DNA fingerprints

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Science  07 Feb 1992:
Vol. 255, Issue 5045, pp. 717-720
DOI: 10.1126/science.1738844


Forensic scientists commonly assume that DNA fingerprint patterns are infrequent in the general population and that genotypes are independent across loci. To test these assumptions, the number of matching DNA patterns in two large databases from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and from Lifecodes was determined. No deviation from independence across loci in either database was apparent. For the Lifecodes database, the probability of a three-locus match ranges from 1 in 6,233 in Caucasians to 1 in 119,889 in Blacks. When considering all trios of five loci in the FBI database, there was only a single match observed out of more than 7.6 million comparisons. If independence is assumed, the probability of a five-locus match ranged from 1.32 x 10(-12) in Southeast Hispanics to 5.59 x 10(-14) in Blacks, implying that the minimum number of possible patterns for each ethnic group is several orders of magnitude greater than their corresponding population sizes in the United States. The most common five-locus pattern can have a frequency no greater than about 10(-6). Hence, individual five-locus DNA profiles are extremely uncommon, if not unique.