NIST interlaboratory studies involving DNA mixtures (MIX13): A modern analysis
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MIX13 was an interlaboratory exercise directed by NIST in 2013. The goal of the exercise was to evaluate the general state of interpretation methods in use at the time across the forensic community within the US and Canada and to measure the consistency in mixture interpretation. The findings were that there was a large variation in analysts’ interpretations between and within laboratories.
Within this work, we sought to evaluate the same mock mixture cases analyzed in MIX13 but with a more current view of the state-of-the-science. Each of the five cases were analyzed using the Identifiler™ multiplex and interpreted with the combined probability of inclusion, CPI, and four different modern probabilistic genotyping systems. Cases 1–4 can be interpreted without difficulty by any of the four PG systems examined. Cases 1 and 4 could also be interpreted successfully with the CPI by assuming two donors.
Cases 2 and 3 cannot be interpreted successfully with the CPI because of potential of allele dropout. Case 3 demonstrated the need to consider relevant background information before interpretation of the profile. This case does not show that there is some barrier to interpretation caused by relatedness beyond the increased allelic overlap that can occur. Had this profile been of better template it might have been interpreted using the CPI despite the (potential) relatedness of contributors.
Case 5 suffers from over-engineering. It is unclear whether reference 5C, a non-donor, can be excluded by manual methods. Inclusion of reference 5C should be termed an adventitious match not a false inclusion. Beyond this statement this case does not contribute to the interlaboratory study of analyst/laboratory interpretation method performance, instead, it explores the limits of DNA analysis.
Taken collectively the analysis of these five cases demonstrates the benefits of changing from CPI to a PG system.