An annotated mtDNA database

Arne Röhl A1, Bernd Brinkmann A1, Lucy Forster A1, P. Forster A2

A1 Institut für Rechtsmedizin, University of Münster, Germany
A2 The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, UK e-mail:


Abstract We have compiled a database of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region, hypervariable regions 1 (HVR1) and 2 (HVR2) sequences of a total of 14,138 individuals compiled from 103 mtDNA publications before 1 January 2000, 13 data sets published in 2000 and 2001 and 2 unpublished data sets of Iraqi Kurds and Indians from Kerala. By contacting the authors and by other means, we have confirmed and corrected sequence errors, eliminated duplications and harmonised the sequence format. These changes affected all but 26 of the 116 publications. Furthermore, we have implemented a geographic information system ("mtradius") which searches for closest matches to a given mtDNA control region sequence and displays them on a geographic map. A potential application is to estimate a chance matching probability when a forensic stain and a suspect have an identical mtDNA sequence: we suggest that the geographic area with the highest frequency of closely related mtDNA sequence types may be used to define a reference population to give the suspect the maximum benefit of doubt in accordance with the ceiling principle.