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WIREs Forensic Sci

A review of the potential of the MinION™ single‐molecule sequencing system for forensic applications

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The use of new sequencing technologies in forensic biology has been explored recently, particularly using Illumina and Ion Torrent platforms. The MinION™, a single‐molecule nanopore sequencer from Oxford Nanopore Technologies™ could advance the field further due to the portability, lower overall instrument cost, and ease of use. This review focuses on exploring applications and the associated benefits and limitations of this technology relative to those currently used in forensic science. The MinION sequences single molecules directly, without amplification, and has the ability to generate long reads in real time. Due to the large amount of sequencing data that the MinION generates, having systems in place for storage and sophisticated analysis tools needs to be considered. The user is able to stop sequencing when the sought after information has been gathered, decreasing the time from sampling to sequence output. Possible forensic applications for the MinION where long sequence reads would be helpful include sequencing whole mitochondrial and bacterial genomes. Sequencing of short tandem repeats and single nucleotide polymorphisms may prove useful for rapid identification at the crime scene. Limitations of the current technology include accuracy of the base calling that has still not reached the standard required for forensic DNA analysis but can be counteracted by read depth and consensus. In addition, the optimum input sample size is currently greater than most real‐world forensic samples. Given the rapid pace of change, future developments by Oxford Nanopore Technologies are likely to overcome these barriers in the coming years. This article is categorized under: Forensic Biology > Forensic DNA Technologies

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