DNA can be used to predict a suspect's hair color. This is the conclusion of scientists at the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, lead by Prof. Manfred Kayser, professor of forensic molecular biology in collaboration with Polish colleagues. Their findings are published in the scientific journal Human Genetics. The scientists took hair samples from 385 people living in southern Poland and categorized them into seven different hair shades, ranging from light blond to black. The team then sequenced the DNA from the samples, focusing on 11 genes with 13 markers - sequences of DNA that have a known location and are associated with a specific trait.
The research demonstrated that on the basis of DNA it is possible to determine with an accuracy of more than 90% whether a person has red hair, with a similarly high accuracy whether a person has black hair, and with an accuracy of more than 80% whether a person's hair color is blond or brown. This new DNA approach even allows differentiating hair colors that are similar, for example, between red and reddish blond, or between blond and dark blond hair. The necessary DNA can be taken from blood, sperm, saliva or other biological materials relevant in forensic case work.