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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Reconstructing recent human phylogenies with forensic STR loci: A statistical approach

Suraksha Agrawal1* and Faisal Khan12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medical Genetics, Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Raebareli Road, Lucknow (UP) 226014 India

2 Department of Biotechnology, Bundelkhand University, Jhansi (UP), India

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BMC Genetics 2005, 6:47  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-6-47

Published: 28 September 2005



Forensic Short Tandem Repeat (STR) loci are effective for the purpose of individual identification, and other forensic applications. Most of these markers have high allelic variability and mutation rate because of which they have limited use in the phylogenetic reconstruction. In the present study, we have carried out a meta-analysis to explore the possibility of using only five STR loci (TPOX, FES, vWA, F13A and Tho1) to carry out phylogenetic assessment based on the allele frequency profile of 20 world population and north Indian Hindus analyzed in the present study.


Phylogenetic analysis based on two different approaches – genetic distance and maximum likelihood along with statistical bootstrapping procedure involving 1000 replicates was carried out. The ensuing tree topologies and PC plots were further compared with those obtained in earlier phylogenetic investigations. The compiled database of 21 populations got segregated and finely resolved into three basal clusters with very high bootstrap values corresponding to three geo-ethnic groups of African, Orientals, and Caucasians.


Based on this study we conclude that if appropriate and logistic statistical approaches are followed then even lesser number of forensic STR loci are powerful enough to reconstruct the recent human phylogenies despite of their relatively high mutation rates.

Short tandem repeats; Forensic; Phylogeny; Neighbor-joining; Maximum likelihood; PC plot