Volume 48, Issue 4 (July 2003)
A Classifier for the SNP-Based Inference of Ancestry
Ancestral inference from DNA could serve as an important adjunct for both standard and future human identity testing procedures. However, current STR methods for the inference of ancestral affiliation have inherent statistical and technical limitations. In an effort to identify biallelic markers that can be used to infer ancestral affiliation from DNA, we screened 211 SNPs in the human pigmentation and xenobiotic metabolism genes. Allele frequencies of 56 SNPs (most from pigmentation genes) were dramatically different between groups of unrelated individuals of Asian, African, and European descent, and both observed and simulated log likelihood ratios revealed that the markers were of exceptional value for ancestral inference. Log likelihood ratios of the multilocus estimates of biological ancestry (EAE/EBA) ranged from 7 to 10, which are on par with the best of the STR batteries yet described. A linear classification method was developed for incorporating these SNPs into a classifier model that was 99, 98, and 100% accurate for identifying individuals of European, African, and Asian descent, respectively. The methods and markers we describe are therefore an important first step for the development of a practical multiplex test for the inference of ancestry in a forensics setting.