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A Comparison of DNA Collection and Retrieval from Two Swab Types (Cotton and Nylon Flocked Swab) when Processed Using Three QIAGEN Extraction Methods


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Robert J. Brownlow, Ph.D.
Directorate of Forensic Services
Metropolitan Police Service
London, SW1H 0BG


Abstract:  The Metropolitan Police Service currently uses cotton swabs to retrieve DNA for forensic profiling. Recently, a new nylon flocked swab type has become available from Copan (MicroRheologics, Brescia, Italy) that it is claimed, offers increased sample recovery and release yields. If true, the flocked swab may have important applications in DNA evidence retrieval. This study examines the DNA retrieval capability of cotton and nylon flocked swabs when extracted using three common extraction platforms (QIAcube, BioRobot EZ1 and manually processed QIAamp DNA investigator kit). Results indicate that both swab types are capable of recovering high percentages of DNA (>50%); however, the extraction platform selected was shown to have a significant effect upon DNA retrieval. Across all experiments, the cotton swab combined with the spin-column extractions was shown to be most effective, with the nylon swab and BioRobot EZ1 combination being the least effective. These findings illustrate the importance of extraction method selection.

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