Updated: 14/09/12 : 06:08:08Printable Version
Scientists may one day be able to produce police "mugshots" from DNA traces found at crime scenes, researchers have revealed.
A team led by Professor Manfred Keyser, from the Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, found just five genes may determine what kind of face a person has.
The Dutch researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and portrait photographs to map facial features.
These were then matched against DNA variants in almost 10,000 individuals.
The study identified five regions of the genetic code associated with different facial shapes.
They suggested the involvement of five specific known genes. One, PAX3, has been linked to a minor disfigurement in which the nose is unusually broad.
Another, PRDM16, is believed to play a role in cleft palate and other facial defects.
Prof Keyser explained: "These are exciting first results that mark the beginning of the genetic understanding of human facial morphology.
"Perhaps some time it will be possible to draw a phantom portrait of a person solely from his or her DNA left behind, which provides interesting applications such as in forensics.
"We already can predict from DNA certain eye and hair colours with quite high accuracies."
The research was published in the online journal Public Library Of Science Genetics.