Identifying individuals by sequencing mitochondrial DNA from teeth

Nat Genet. 1992 Oct;2(2):135-8. doi: 10.1038/ng1092-135.


Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was extracted from teeth stored from 3 months to 20 years, including teeth from the semi-skeletonized remains of a murder victim which had been buried for 10 months. Tooth donors and/or their maternal relatives provided blood or buccal cells, from which mtDNA was also extracted. Enzymatic amplification and direct sequencing of roughly 650 nucleotides from two highly polymorphic regions of mtDNA yielded identical sequences for each comparison of tooth and fresh DNA. Our results suggest that teeth provide an excellent source for high molecular weight mtDNA that can be valuable for extending the time in which decomposed human remains can be genetically identified.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / isolation & purification
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Forensic Medicine / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Time Factors
  • Tooth / chemistry*


  • DNA, Mitochondrial