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Biol Chem. 1999 Nov;380(11):1329-31.

An evaluation of techniques for the extraction and amplification of DNA from naturally shed hairs.

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  • 1Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany.


Hair can be a valuable source of DNA for the noninvasive study of human and nonhuman populations. However, hairs contain extremely small quantities of DNA, making the method used to extract the DNA of paramount importance. This study compares the effectiveness of 4 different methods of DNA extraction from shed chimpanzee hair, as measured by the ability to amplify mtDNA targets using PCR. The most successful method is also the simplest, requiring only digestion of the root end in a buffer compatible with subsequent PCR without a prior purification or extraction step. Strategies to non-specifically preamplify the template are not successful with DNA from stored shed hairs.

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