What can you tell about me from my genetic profile?
STR DNA analysis can identify the gender of an individual. Other STR locations used for forensic purposes are non-coding regions and are not known to influence any individual traits. For example, the STR genetic profile generated cannot tell you if a person has blue eyes or brown, black hair or red, information about height and weight, etc.
Why does it take so long to get DNA results?
DNA analysis involves four main laboratory steps: extraction, quantification, amplification and genotyping. Samples are often processed in batches and therefore, completing the four step laboratory process for a batch of samples can take a couple of weeks, once analysis is begun. Once a genetic profile is obtained, the data must be interpreted and a report written. All of the analysts notes, interpretations and the report must then be reviewed by a second qualified analyst. Each of these steps is detail-intensive and time consuming and may take up to several hours for a single sample. In addition, due to a backlog of cases, it may be a few months before DNA analysis begins on a case.
I've often heard DNA testing referred to as DNA "fingerprinting". Is DNA testing replacing fingerprints?
No. There are several reasons why DNA testing should not be thought of as a replacement for fingerprints. The term "DNA fingerprint" is somewhat misleading and genetic profile is a more appropriate term for the data generated. Identifying and developing a fingerprint for comparison is relatively inexpensive compared to processing a sample to obtain a DNA profile. Additionally, DNA testing has its limitations – for example, it cannot distinguish between DNA from identical twins. Fingerprints are needed to distinguish between such individuals.