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Principles of Forensic DNA for Officers of the Court

mtDNA Considerations

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photo of a folded button down shirt with a mask and gloves on top
National Institute of Justice (NIJ) (see reuse policy).

The prevention and detection of laboratory contamination, specifically the introduction of exogenous mtDNA into the testing process, is given special attention in mtDNA testing because of the natural abundance (high copy number) of mtDNA. Prevention methods include:

  • Separation of pre- and post-PCR processing.
  • Dedicated reagents for extraction and PCR.
  • Ultraviolet light and bleach to destroy DNA on surfaces.
  • Lab coats, gloves, face masks, and other disposables.

The most important detection tools are negative controls that accompany all samples through testing and should remain free of mtDNA.

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