Document details for 'Microbial DNA profiling by multiplex terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism for forensic examination of soil evidence and the influence of sample condition'

Authors Macdonald, L.M., Singh, B.K., Thomas, N., Brewer, M.J., Campbell, C.D. and Dawson, L.A.
Publication details Journal of Applied Microbiology 105, 813-821.
Keywords archaea, bacteria, forensic evidence, fungi, soil archive, soil drying.

Aims: To evaluate: (i) the impact of air-drying on bacterial, archaeal and fungal soil DNA profiles and (ii) the potential use of multiplex-terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (M-TRFLP) as a tool for forensic comparison of soil.

Methods and Results: An M-TRFLP approach was used to profile bacterial, archaeal and fungal DNA profiles from five different soil sites. Air-drying soil significantly reduced the quantity of DNA but the number of operational taxanomic units (OTU) was unaffected. The impact of air-drying on soil DNA profiles was dependent on soil site and microbial primers. Fungal profiles were altered the least by air-drying. For prokaryotic profiles, air-drying altered the relative similarity / dissimilarity between soil sites. The M-TRFLP approach was more discriminatory compared with soil colour and single-taxa profiling, but did not significantly improve resolution between two similar soils.

Conclusions: Of those tested, soil fungi were potentially the more robust target for application to soil forensic studies as they were altered less by air-drying and provided clear discrimination of soils from different sites. The M-TRFLP method demonstrated potential to achieve greater resolution, discriminating the soil sites based on both bacterial and fungal components.

Significance and Impact of the Study: Soil DNA profiling has potential as a forensic tool, but sample condition and the appropriate selection of microbial target taxa must be considered.

Last updated 2008-09-11
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