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Nilsson M.,Uppsala University | Nilsson M.,Forensic Unit | Possnert G.,Uppsala University | Edlund H.,Uppsala University | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2010

Saint Birgitta (Saint Bridget of Sweden) lived between 1303 and 1373 and was designated one of Europe's six patron saints by the Pope in 1999. According to legend, the skulls of St. Birgitta and her daughter Katarina are maintained in a relic shrine in Vadstena abbey, mid Sweden. The origin of the two skulls was assessed first by analysis of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to confirm a maternal relationship. The results of this analysis displayed several differences between the two individuals, thus supporting an interpretation of the two skulls not being individuals that are maternally related. Because the efficiency of PCR amplification and quantity of DNA suggested a different amount of degradation and possibly a very different age for each of the skulls, an orthogonal procedure, radiocarbon dating, was performed. The radiocarbon dating results suggest an age difference of at least 200 years and neither of the dating results coincides with the period St. Birgitta or her daughter Katarina lived. The relic, thought to originate from St. Birgitta, has an age corresponding to the 13th century (1215-1270 cal AD, 2σ confidence), which is older than expected. Thus, the two different analyses are consistent in questioning the authenticity of either of the human skulls maintained in the Vadstena relic shrine being that of St. Birgitta. Of course there are limitations when interpreting the data of any ancient biological materials and these must be considered for a final decision on the authenticity of the remains. © 2010 Nilsson et al. Source


Parson W.,Innsbruck Medical University | Parson W.,Pennsylvania State University | Strobl C.,Innsbruck Medical University | Huber G.,Innsbruck Medical University | And 9 more authors.
Forensic Science International: Genetics | Year: 2013

Insights into the human mitochondrial phylogeny have been primarily achieved by sequencing full mitochondrial genomes (mtGenomes). In forensic genetics (partial) mtGenome information can be used to assign haplotypes to their phylogenetic backgrounds, which may, in turn, have characteristic geographic distributions that would offer useful information in a forensic case. In addition and perhaps even more relevant in the forensic context, haplogroup-specific patterns of mutations form the basis for quality control of mtDNA sequences. The current method for establishing (partial) mtDNA haplotypes is Sanger-type sequencing (STS), which is laborious, time-consuming, and expensive. With the emergence of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies, the body of available mtDNA data can potentially be extended much more quickly and cost-efficiently. Customized chemistries, laboratory workflows and data analysis packages could support the community and increase the utility of mtDNA analysis in forensics. We have evaluated the performance of mtGenome sequencing using the Personal Genome Machine (PGM) and compared the resulting haplotypes directly with conventional Sanger-type sequencing. A total of 64 mtGenomes (>1 million bases) were established that yielded high concordance with the corresponding STS haplotypes (<0.02% differences). About two-thirds of the differences were observed in or around homopolymeric sequence stretches. In addition, the sequence alignment algorithm employed to align NGS reads played a significant role in the analysis of the data and the resulting mtDNA haplotypes. Further development of alignment software would be desirable to facilitate the application of NGS in mtDNA forensic genetics. © 2013 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved. Source


Parson W.,Innsbruck Medical University | Parson W.,Pennsylvania State University | Strobl C.,Innsbruck Medical University | Huber G.,Innsbruck Medical University | And 9 more authors.
Forensic Science International: Genetics | Year: 2013

Insights into the human mitochondrial phylogeny have been primarily achieved by sequencing full mitochondrial genomes (mtGenomes). In forensic genetics (partial) mtGenome information can be used to assign haplotypes to their phylogenetic backgrounds, which may, in turn, have characteristic geographic distributions that would offer useful information in a forensic case. In addition and perhaps even more relevant in the forensic context, haplogroup-specific patterns of mutations form the basis for quality control of mtDNA sequences. The current method for establishing (partial) mtDNA haplotypes is Sanger-type sequencing (STS), which is laborious, time-consuming, and expensive. With the emergence of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies, the body of available mtDNA data can potentially be extended much more quickly and cost-efficiently. Customized chemistries, laboratory workflows and data analysis packages could support the community and increase the utility of mtDNA analysis in forensics. We have evaluated the performance of mtGenome sequencing using the Personal Genome Machine (PGM) and compared the resulting haplotypes directly with conventional Sanger-type sequencing. A total of 64 mtGenomes (>1 million bases) were established that yielded high concordance with the corresponding STS haplotypes (<0.02% differences). About two-thirds of the differences were observed in or around homopolymeric sequence stretches. In addition, the sequence alignment algorithm employed to align NGS reads played a significant role in the analysis of the data and the resulting mtDNA haplotypes. Further development of alignment software would be desirable to facilitate the application of NGS in mtDNA forensic genetics. © 2013 The authors. Source


Gilpin M.,George Mason University | Christensen A.M.,George Mason University | Christensen A.M.,FBI Laboratory
Journal of Forensic Sciences | Year: 2015

Analyzing and identifying skeletal remains becomes increasingly difficult when remains have been cremated, especially in cases where the cremated material may have been intentionally contaminated with nonskeletal material. This study examined the potential of X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF) to detect the presence of nonskeletal contaminants in samples of cremains. Eleven samples of cremains were variably combined with concrete mix and analyzed using XRF. Photon counts of elements in each sample were analyzed, and the coefficient of determination (R2) using unweighted linear regression as a function of percent cremains was calculated. Results showed that with changes in the proportion of skeletal material and contaminant, there were significant (R2 > 0.90) changes in detected levels of phosphorus, potassium, zinc, aluminum, and sulfur. The use of XRF is concluded to be a valid approach in the identification of the presence of nonskeletal material in potentially contaminated cremains. © 2015 American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Source


Just R.S.,Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory | Irwin J.A.,FBI Laboratory | Parson W.,Innsbruck Medical University | Parson W.,Pennsylvania State University
Forensic Science International: Genetics | Year: 2015

Abstract Long an important and useful tool in forensic genetic investigations, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) typing continues to mature. Research in the last few years has demonstrated both that data from the entire molecule will have practical benefits in forensic DNA casework, and that massively parallel sequencing (MPS) methods will make full mitochondrial genome (mtGenome) sequencing of forensic specimens feasible and cost-effective. A spate of recent studies has employed these new technologies to assess intraindividual mtDNA variation. However, in several instances, contamination and other sources of mixed mtDNA data have been erroneously identified as heteroplasmy. Well vetted mtGenome datasets based on both Sanger and MPS sequences have found authentic point heteroplasmy in approximately 25% of individuals when minor component detection thresholds are in the range of 10-20%, along with positional distribution patterns in the coding region that differ from patterns of point heteroplasmy in the well-studied control region. A few recent studies that examined very low-level heteroplasmy are concordant with these observations when the data are examined at a common level of resolution. In this review we provide an overview of considerations related to the use of MPS technologies to detect mtDNA heteroplasmy. In addition, we examine published reports on point heteroplasmy to characterize features of the data that will assist in the evaluation of future mtGenome data developed by any typing method. © 2015 The Authors. Source

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