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Intra-Bone Variation of Recoverable Nuclear and Mitochondrial DNA from Human Skeletal Material

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2019
12 pages

This is the Draft Summary Overview of the findings and methodology of a study that assessed the nuclear and mitochondrial DNA quantity and quality of unpreserved bone, both fresh and following surface and sub-surface interment, so as to determine whether the mid-shaft diaphysis of femora is the optimal location for DNA recovery from human skeletal remains.


The research methods used are described. The study results do not indicate that the femoral diaphysis produces either higher quantity or quality of nuclear or mitochondrial DNA than do other regions of the femur or than the patella, talus, or calcaneus; however. It also did not show that femoral regions proximal or distal to the femur midshaft diaphysis had higher quantity or quality DNA, as had been reported previously. The human remains tested in the current study were limited to those available from donors, which included only elderly females who had recently died of illness. The study's results thus further confirm that the human midshaft femoral diaphysis is not a superior skeletal region for obtaining DNA identification data compared to other femoral regions; and the patella, calcaneus, and talus showed similar levels of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA quantity and quality as the midshaft femora. In instances where an unidentified individual, based on skeletal appearance or other factors, is likely to have been young, active, or generally healthy, the distal and proximal regions of long bones, as well as other skeletal elements, may produce better DNA typing results than midshaft diaphysis, and should be considered for their forensic utility. 5 figures

Date Published: August 1, 2019