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Minerva Medicolegale 2007 December;127(4):293-9

language: English

DNA extraction from ancient skeletal remains

Lacan M., Thèves C.

Laboratory of Anthropobiology CNRS FRE2960, Toulouse, France


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n forensic identification, the study of the extracted DNA from old human remains represents a precious help. Indeed, when bodies are kept in particular conditions (cold, dry, anoxic and sterile environment) some small fragments (about 200 pairs of bases) can be extracted. Thanks to a great number of copies by cell, the mitochondrial DNA is often the only one still present in sufficient quantities to be analysed. However, most of the time, it is extracted in small quantities, partly degraded or chemically modified, or sometimes co-extracted with reactions inhibitors or even contaminated by exogenous DNA. Thus, its extraction and its study require specific precautions. Handling must be made in sterile conditions to avoid any contaminations. The steps of DNA extraction and purification are crucial, and the methods based on phenol-chloroform and on the linkage between the DNA and a silica matrix seem to be the most effective ways to obtain sufficient yields of analysable material.

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