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J Forensic Sci. 2019 Nov;64(6):1646-1657. doi: 10.1111/1556-4029.14123. Epub 2019 Jul 25.

Getting Ahead: Extraction of DNA from Skeletonized Cranial Material and Teeth.

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Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, 115 Purple Heart Drive, Dover AFB, DE, 19902.
College of Science and Engineering, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.


Between 1990 and 2018, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency submitted 2177 cranial elements and 1565 teeth to the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System-Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory for DNA testing. In an effort to identify missing United States service members, materials were recovered from wartime losses inclusive of World War II, the Korean War, and Southeast Asia. Using four different DNA extraction protocols, DNA testing was performed using mitochondrial DNA Sanger sequencing, modified AmpFlSTR® Yfiler™, AmpFlSTR® MiniFiler™, PowerPlex® Fusion, or Next Generation Sequencing. This paper aims to provide optimal strategies for the DNA testing of skeletonized cranial materials. Cranial elements produced the most consistent results in Sanger sequencing using an organic purification; however, teeth were most successful for the same platform with an inorganic purification. The inverse is true for STR testing of cranial bones. Of the cranial elements, the temporal provided the most consistent results.


DNA typing; STR analysis; cranial bones; forensic DNA analysis; forensic anthropology; forensic science; mitochondrial DNA; skeletonized human remains; teeth; temporal

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