Volume 50, Issue 5 (September 2005)
The Effects of Skeletal Preparation Techniques on DNA from Human and Non-Human Bone
The forensic pathologist increasingly relies on the forensic anthropologist to be the consulting expert in human identification. Likewise, if identification is not possible from visual inspection of skeletal remains, the forensic biologist may be called upon to conduct DNA analysis. The possibility of downstream DNA testing needs to be considered when skeletal preparation techniques are employed to deflesh human remains, as they have the potential to strongly impact genetic analyses and subsequent identification. In this study, three cleaning techniques, boiling bone in water, in bleach, and in powdered detergent/sodium carbonate, were tested for their effect on nuclear and mtDNA recovery from a variety of human and non-human bones. A statistically significant reduction in DNA yields occurred in non-human bones cleaned with bleach, and DNA degradation was apparent electrophoretically. The human bones also showed much lower yields from bleach cleaning, while the detergent/carbonate method allowed the largest segments of DNA to be amplified, indicating it may have a less degradative effect on bone DNA than either of the other cleaning processes.