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Simplified Field Preservation of Tissues for Subsequent DNA Analyses

Authors

  • Corinne L. Michaud M.S.,

    1. Forensic Science Program, School of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824.
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    • Present address: 220 Nutting Hall, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469.

  • David R. Foran Ph.D.

    1. Forensic Science Program, School of Criminal Justice and Department of Zoology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824.
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  • Presented at the 58th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, February 20–25, 2006, in Seattle, WA; and the 59th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, February 19–24, 2007, in San Antonio, TX.

Additional information and reprint requests:
David R. Foran, Ph.D.
School of Criminal Justice and Department of Zoology
560 Baker Hall
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
E-mail: foran@msu.edu

Abstract

Abstract:  Successful DNA-based identification of mass disaster victims depends on acquiring tissues that are not highly degraded. In this study, multiple protocols for field preservation of tissues for later DNA analysis were tested. Skin and muscle samples were collected from decaying pig carcasses. Tissues were preserved using cold storage, desiccation, or room temperature storage in preservative solutions for up to 6 months. DNA quality was assessed through amplification of successively larger segments of nuclear DNA. Solution-based storage, including a DMSO/NaCl/EDTA mixture, alcohols, and RNAlater preserved DNA of the highest quality, refrigeration was intermediate, and desiccation was least effective. Tissue type and extent of decomposition significantly affected stored DNA quality. Overall, the results indicate that any tissue preservation attempt is far superior to delaying or forgoing preservation efforts, and that simple, inexpensive methods can be highly effective in preserving DNA, thus should be initiated as quickly as possible.

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