DNA test can now tell hair colour

January 6th, 2011 - 5:03 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 6 (IANS) Researchers have found that DNA taken from blood, sperm, saliva or skin cells can tell whether someone has red or black hair with more than 90 percent accuracy.The implications for law enforcement are potentially huge, allowing them to estimate the hair colour of a suspect from DNA left at a crime scene.

The study, carried out by a team of Dutch and Polish researchers, has been published in the journal Human Genetics.

They are also able to determine with an accuracy of more than 80 percent whether a person’s hair is blond or brown, reports the Daily Mail.

The technique can even differentiate between hair colours that are similar, such as red and reddish blond, and blond and dark blond.

“That we are now making it possible to predict different hair colours from DNA represents a major breakthrough because, so far, only red hair colour, which is rare, could be estimated from DNA,” said Manfred Kayser, forensic molecular biology professor at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Denmark.

“We identified 13 ‘DNA markers’ from 11 genes that are informative to predict a person’s hair colour.

“A standardised DNA test for predicting hair colour could emerge in the near future, adding powerfully to the forensic toolkit,” he said.

Investigators currently use genetic profiling to compare DNA from a crime scene with that of known offenders whose DNA is held on police databases.

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