This article reports on a project that applied a new set of multiplexed PCR primers to the analysis of human skeletal remains in determining their efficacy in analyzing degraded DNA.
These primer sets, known as Miniplexes, produce shorter amplicons (50–280 base pairs [bp]) than standard short tandem repeat (STR) kits, but still use the 13 CODIS STR loci, providing results that are searchable on national DNA databases. In this study, a set of 31 different human remains were exposed to a variety of environmental conditions, extracted, and amplified with commercial and Miniplex DNA typing kits. The amplification efficiency of the Miniplex sets was then compared with the Promega PowerPlex® 16 system. Sixty‐four percent of the samples generated full profiles when amplified with the Miniplexes; however, only 16 percent of the samples generated full profiles with the Powerplex® 16 kit. Complete profiles were obtained for 11 of the 12 Miniplex loci with amplicon sizes less than 200 bp. These data suggest smaller PCR amplicons may provide a useful alternative to mitochondrial DNA for anthropological and forensic analysis of degraded DNA from human skeletal remains. (publisher abstract modified)