Mitochondrial DNA analysis typically involves materials where little DNA is present to begin with. Teeth, hair, and bones such as ribs and long bones (e.g., femur and humerus) are often materials used for mtDNA analysis in forensic cases. The mtDNA must be carefully extracted from these materials and often purified away from PCR inhibitors that can be co-extracted (Yoshii et al. 1992).
Because anthropological examination of a bone is often performed in addition to mtDNA testing, care must be taken to remove a section of the bone that will avoid destroying the physical features of the bone. Thus, an analyst might remove a small section from the middle of the bone without cutting all the way through the bone so that the overall length of the bone is not impacted. The same idea applies for teeth where odontological examinations are performed to aid an investigation. A tabulation of success rates for obtaining reportable mtDNA sequencing results across different skeletal materials found that ribs and femurs work best (Edson et al. 2004).
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