Paul Rincon at the BBC:
It is not perfect, but could be an important investigative tool when combined with other intelligence.
The method exploits genetic likenesses between men who share the same surname, and may help prioritise inquiries.
Details of the research from the University of Leicester, UK, appear in the latest edition of Current Biology.
The technique is based on work comparing the Y chromosomes of men with the same surname. The Y chromosome is a package of genetic material found normally only in males.
It is passed down from father to son, just like a surname.