IMR Press / FBL / Volume 26 / Issue 10 / DOI: 10.52586/4991
Open Access Review
External visible characteristics prediction through SNPs analysis in the forensic setting: a review
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1 Department of Molecular Medicine, Laboratory of Forensic Genetics, University of Padova, 35121 Padova, Italy
2 Department of Cardiac, Thoracic, Vascular Sciences and Public Health, University of Padova, 35121 Padova, Italy
*Correspondence: (Pamela Tozzo)
Front. Biosci. (Landmark Ed) 2021, 26(10), 828–850;
Submitted: 5 July 2021 | Revised: 15 September 2021 | Accepted: 22 September 2021 | Published: 30 October 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forensic pathology and forensic genetics: past, present and future)
Copyright: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by BRI.
This is an open access article under the CC BY 4.0 license (

Numerous major advances have been made in forensic genetics over the past decade. One recent field of research has been focused on the analysis of External Visible Characteristics (EVC) such as eye colour, hair colour (including hair greying), hair morphology, skin colour, freckles, facial morphology, high myopia, obesity, and adult height, with important repercussions in the forensic field. Its use could be especially useful in investigative cases where there are no potential suspects and no match between the evidence DNA sample under investigation and any genetic profiles entered into criminal databases. The present review represents the current state of knowledge of SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms) regarding visible characteristics, including the latest research progress in identifying new genetic markers, their most promising applications in the forensic field and the implications for police investigations. The applicability of these techniques to concrete cases has stoked a heated debate in the literature on the ethical implications of using these predictive tools for visible traits.

External visible characteristics
Forensic DNA phenotyping
SNPs analysis
Phenotype prediction
Fig. 1.
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