Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2440/97177
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Type: Journal article
Title: Differential nuclear and mitochondrial DNA preservation in post-mortem teeth with implications for forensic and ancient DNA studies
Author: Higgins, D.
Rohrlach, A.
Kaidonis, J.
Townsend, G.
Austin, J.
Citation: PLoS One, 2015; 10(5):e0126935-1-e0126935-17
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Issue Date: 2015
ISSN: 1932-6203
1932-6203
Statement of
Responsibility: 
Denice Higgins, Adam B. Rohrlach, John Kaidonis, Grant Townsend, Jeremy J. Austin
Abstract: Major advances in genetic analysis of skeletal remains have been made over the last decade, primarily due to improvements in post-DNA-extraction techniques. Despite this, a key challenge for DNA analysis of skeletal remains is the limited yield of DNA recovered from these poorly preserved samples. Enhanced DNA recovery by improved sampling and extraction techniques would allow further advancements. However, little is known about the post-mortem kinetics of DNA degradation and whether the rate of degradation varies between nuclear and mitochondrial DNA or across different skeletal tissues. This knowledge, along with information regarding ante-mortem DNA distribution within skeletal elements, would inform sampling protocols facilitating development of improved extraction processes. Here we present a combined genetic and histological examination of DNA content and rates of DNA degradation in the different tooth tissues of 150 human molars over short-medium post-mortem intervals. DNA was extracted from coronal dentine, root dentine, cementum and pulp of 114 teeth via a silica column method and the remaining 36 teeth were examined histologically. Real time quantification assays based on two nuclear DNA fragments (67 bp and 156 bp) and one mitochondrial DNA fragment (77 bp) showed nuclear and mitochondrial DNA degraded exponentially, but at different rates, depending on post-mortem interval and soil temperature. In contrast to previous studies, we identified differential survival of nuclear and mtDNA in different tooth tissues. Furthermore histological examination showed pulp and dentine were rapidly affected by loss of structural integrity, and pulp was completely destroyed in a relatively short time period. Conversely, cementum showed little structural change over the same time period. Finally, we confirm that targeted sampling of cementum from teeth buried for up to 16 months can provide a reliable source of nuclear DNA for STR-based genotyping using standard extraction methods, without the need for specialised equipment or large-volume demineralisation steps.
Keywords: Cell Nucleus; Tooth; Humans; Postmortem Changes; DNA; DNA, Mitochondrial; Microsatellite Repeats; Forensic Genetics
Rights: © 2015 Higgins et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
RMID: 0030029240
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0126935
Grant ID: http://purl.org/au-research/grants/arc/FT100100108
Appears in Collections:Genetics publications

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