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Landscape Study of Next Generation Sequencing Technologies for Forensic Applications

NCJ Number
Mikalaa Martin; Erin Estes; Shannon Krauss; Cody Sorrell; Rebecca Shute; Lyndsie Ferrara; Tracey Johnson; Patricia Melton
Date Published
April 2023
37 pages

This document lays out, for Forensic Science Service Providers, the following information: background on the application of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technology to forensic science casework and research initiatives; a product landscape of commercially available NGS technologies; user profiles from forensic practitioners and forensic researchers using NGS technologies; and benefits, limitations, and implementation considerations for currently available NGS products tailored to forensic science applications.


This publication provides Forensic Science Service Provider (FSSP) directors, laboratory personnel, decision-makers, and end-users with information about the implementation of forensic science-specific, commercially available products for Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), and lessons learned from publicly funded and private FSSPs that are early adopters of the technology. A two-step process was used to conduct the landscape study described in this document: first, researching primary and secondary sources, including industry literature, to obtain NGS-related product capabilities and implementation considerations; and second, discussion of NGS technology, products, and applications with subject matter experts, including FSSP practitioners, decision-makers, researchers, educators, and vendor representatives. Key takeaways from the landscape study include: NGS technology capabilities may save cost, labor and time, and can provide comprehensive information from a DNA sample and improve analysis of highly degraded or compromised samples; forensic applications of NGS include human identification using nuclear and mitochondrial DNA; few FSSPs have implemented NGS and adoption is currently limited by high-resource investments such as funding, staffing, training, and laboratory space; FSSPs are primarily implementing two instruments, the Ion GneStudio™ System and the MiSeq FGx©, and both vendors sell library preparation kits, software, and automation solutions; researchers and practitioners working with developers help to drive improved FSSP understanding, use, and implementation of NGS; implementing NGS requires investments in sequencing systems, library preparation kits, consumables, set-up validation, training, and ongoing maintenance, and may be more practical for FSSPs with higher case volumes and processing requests; and forensic NGS vendors provide resources for systems validation and training.