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28.07.2017 | Original Article | Ausgabe 1/2018

International Journal of Legal Medicine 1/2018

As solid as a rock—comparison of CE- and MPS-based analyses of the petrosal bone as a source of DNA for forensic identification of challenging cranial bones

International Journal of Legal Medicine > Ausgabe 1/2018
Galina Kulstein, Thorsten Hadrys, Peter Wiegand
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1007/​s00414-017-1653-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


Short tandem repeat (STR) typing from skeletal remains can be a difficult task. Dependent on the environmental conditions of the provenance of the bones, DNA can be degraded and STR typing inhibited. Generally, dense and compact bones are known to preserve DNA better. Several studies already proved that femora and teeth have high DNA typing success rates. Unfortunately, these elements are not present in all cases involving skeletal remains. Processing partial or singular skeletal elements, it is favorable to select bone areas where DNA preservation is comparably higher. Especially, cranial bones are often accidentally discovered during criminal investigations. The cranial bone is composed of multiple parts. In this examination, we evaluated the potential of the petrous bone for human identification of skeletal remains in forensic case work. Material from different sections of eight unknown cranial bones and—where available—additionally other skeletal elements, collected at the DNA department of the Institute of Legal Medicine in Ulm, Germany, from 2010 to 2017, were processed with an optimized DNA extraction and STR typing strategy. The results highlight that STR typing from the petrous bones leads to reportable profiles in all individuals, even in cases where the analysis of the parietal bone failed. Moreover, the comparison of capillary electrophorese (CE) typing to massively parallel sequencing (MPS) analysis shows that MPS has the potential to analyze degraded human remains and is even capable to provide additional information about phenotype and ancestry of unknown individuals.

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