The Forensic Applicability of DNA Extraction Methods from Compromised Skeletal Remains: A Comparative Literature Synthesis


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Forensic anthropologists are tasked with analyzing skeletal remains in a variety of conditions. The goal of this project was to explore how chemical DNA extraction techniques can be used to aid in forensic anthropological investigations where the skeletal remains are too compromised to rely on traditional observational methods. The types of compromised bones examined are weathered, aged, heat-damaged, fragmented, and commingled. Various DNA extraction methods (phenol-chloroform, CTAB + isoamyl alcohol, total demineralization, and QIAamp DNA mini Kit) from skeletal remains were analyzed to determine how effective and feasible they are in a forensic investigation and how the methods can be furthered to assist in investigation regardless of the state of the remains. This included identifying aspects from each method to be applied or focused on for a future universal DNA extraction model. Forensic cases, especially those which contain compromised remains, will benefit from this project as the new approach will allow for evidence to be obtained from any bones despite the condition of the remains; this could also apply to ancestral remains found at historical sites. The results demonstrated that total demineralization and the QIAamp DNA Mini Kit show the most potential in contributing to a future universal method, as long as there is sufficient funding, established protocols, and up to date training in forensic laboratories.



Forensic anthropology, Forensic science, DNA extraction, Total Demineralization, Phenol-chloroform Extraction, CTAB + Isoamyl Alcohol Extraction, QIAamp DNA Mini Kit, Compromised skeletal remains