We have investigated the survival of PCR-amplifiable mitochondrial and nuclear DNA in a small number of modern and medieval bovine leather samples. The results of this preliminary investigation demonstrate that, while no nuclear DNA can be PCR-amplified from any of the specimens, mitochondrial DNA can be amplified from all samples. To investigate this contrasting pattern of DNA survival further, we have vegetable-tanned cow skin in our own laboratory, and directly assayed the survival of PCR-amplifiable mitochondrial and nuclear DNA at each step of the process. The results indicate that nuclear DNA is reduced to sub-amplifiable levels as a result of the tanning baths, whereas amplifiable mitochondrial DNA survives the complete process. Our results suggest that old and archaeological bovine leather may represent a useful source of genetic information, although this information will most likely be limited to that which can be gained from mitochondrial DNA.
- Ancient DNA
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