Revisiting single cell analysis in forensic science

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Forensic science has yet to take full advantage of single cell analysis. Its greatest benefit is the ability to alleviate the challenges associated with DNA mixture analysis, which remains a significant hurdle in forensic science. Many of the factors that cause complexity in mixture interpretation are absent in single cell analyses—multiple contributors, varied levels of contribution, and allele masking. This study revisits single cell analyses in the context of forensic identification, introducing previously unseen depth to the characterization of data generated from single cells using a novel pipeline that includes recovery of single cells using the DEPArray NxT and amplification using the PowerPlex Fusion 6c kit with varied PCR cycles (29, 30, and 31). The resulting allelic signal was assessed using analytical thresholds of 10, 100, and 150RFU. The mean peak heights across the sample sets generally increased as cycle number increased, 75.0 ± 85.3, 147.1 ± 172.6, and 226.1 ± 298.2 RFU, for 29, 30, and 31 cycles, respectively. The average proportion of allele/locus dropout was most significantly impacted by changes in the detection threshold, whereas increases in PCR cycle number had less impact. Overall data quality improved notably when increasing PCR from 29 to 30 cycles, less improvement and more volatility was introduced at 31 cycles. The average random match probabilities for the 29, 30, and 31 cycle sets at 150RFU are 1 in 2.4 × 1018 ± 1.46 × 1019, 1 in 1.49 × 1025 ± 5.8 × 1025, and 1 in 1.83 × 1024 ± 8.09 × 1024, respectively. This demonstrates the current power of single cell analysis in removing the need for complex mixture analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages12
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number7054
StatePublished - 2021


  • single cell
  • Forensic DNA


Dive into the research topics of 'Revisiting single cell analysis in forensic science'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this