Mitochondrial DNA Extraction from Burial Soil Samples at Incremental Distances: A Preliminary Study

Ariane E. Thomas, Bill Holben, Kora Dueño, Meradeth Snow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Preservation variance of soil DNA is neglected in the literature, and exceptional cases exaggerate amplification capabilities. This study sought to amplify a short mitochondrial fragment (212 bp) specific to Sus scrofa domesticus from the soil surrounding decomposing pig remains from an open-air locale. Samples collected above the body at incremental distances after 145 days of initial placement yielded pig DNA. A secondary sampling was collected in 2017, approximately 768 days after burial. Inhibition tests corroborated that pig DNA was no longer present in the soil resulting in a loss of original DNA between 145 and 768 days. The results provide evidence that genetic material leaches out radially from the source and DNA fragments longer than 200 bp do not persist in soil for a relatively short timeframe in western Montana. The conclusions support the collection of soil in crime scene investigation procedures within the first few months of decomposition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)845-851
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2019


  • DNA degradation
  • DNA extraction
  • DNA leaching in soil
  • DNA preservation
  • Sus scrofa domesticus
  • forensic science
  • metagenomics
  • pig DNA
  • pig burials
  • polymerase chain reaction
  • soil extraction kit


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