, Volume 50, Issue 6, pp 530–535 | Cite as

The biochemistry of ancient DNA in bone

  • N. Tuross
Multi-Author Reviews


The amount of DNA in ancient bone was determined by ethidium bromide staining after the removal of the potent Taq inhibitor, fulvic acid. A complete decalcification and a perfusion protocol were used to recover DNA from bone. A variety of purification techniques including molecular sieve, hydroxyapatite binding and ‘Magic’ preparations yielded DNA that spanned from 3.4μg/g of bone to below detectable limits. Fulvic acid was shown to interfere with the quantification of DNA derived from ancient human skeletal material one hundred to over seven thousand years old. Scanning UV in the 300 to 230 nm range is a simple and sensitive technique for documenting fulvic acid contamination in ancient bone extracts.

Key words

Bone collagen fulvic acids DNA ancient DNA 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag Basel 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. Tuross
    • 1
  1. 1.Conservation Analytical LaboratorySmithsonian InstitutionWashingtonUSA

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