Marie Allen – New methods for improved forensic and historical DNA analysis

Hand holding a micropipette
Photo: Marcus Marcetic

Our research aims to develop highly sensitive and discriminating assays for forensic DNA analysis of challenging samples.

Evidence samples found at a crime scene have often been subjected to harsh environments and may thus have degraded as well as minute amounts of DNA. Our research involves developing typing assays to analyse mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and nuclear DNA (nDNA) markers. Using mtDNA markers will allow a highly sensitive analysis due to the high number of mtDNA copies per cell. In addition, nDNA markers, amplified in very short PCR fragments, will yield a high discrimination power than the mtDNA analysis.

Analyses of challenging DNA samples

Several new assays have been developed in our research group and used successfully to analyse challenging evidence material in forensic cases. In several projects, we use traditional molecular biology methods and next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies for DNA analysis of degraded, limited and damaged samples.

Our novel methods have been used to investigate the putative remains of St. Birgitta and her daughter Katarina, Nicolaus Copernicus, Carin Göring, and the Swedish Warship Vasa as an ultimate test for success analysing challenging samples. We have also analysed even older remains in a large collaboration project where samples from Viking-age boat graves found on the island of Salme in Estonia were investigated for ancestry, appearance and familial relationships.

Last modified: 2023-02-01