The survival of PCR-amplifiable DNA in cow leather
Vuisso, A., Worobey, M., Odegaard, N., Bunce, M., Machado, C. A., Lynnerup, N., Peacock, E. E. and Gilbert, M. T. P. (2007) The survival of PCR-amplifiable DNA in cow leather. Journal of Archaeological Science, 34 (5). pp. 823-829.
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We have investigated the survival of PCR-amplifiable mitochondrial and nuclear DNA in a small number of modern and medieval bovine leather samples. The results of this preliminary investigation demonstrate that, while no nuclear DNA can be PCR-amplified from any of the specimens, mitochondrial DNA can be amplified from all samples. To investigate this contrasting pattern of DNA survival further, we have vegetable-tanned cow skin in our own laboratory, and directly assayed the survival of PCR-amplifiable mitochondrial and nuclear DNA at each step of the process. The results indicate that nuclear DNA is reduced to sub-amplifiable levels as a result of the tanning baths, whereas amplifiable mitochondrial DNA survives the complete process. Our results suggest that old and archaeological bovine leather may represent a useful source of genetic information, although this information will most likely be limited to that which can be gained from mitochondrial DNA.
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