Collection of DNA for genetic profiling is a powerful means for the identification of individuals responsible for crimes and terrorist acts. Biologic hazards, such as bacteria, endospores, toxins, and viruses, could contaminate sites of terrorist activities and thus could be present in samples collected for profiling. The fate of these hazards during DNA isolation has not been thoroughly examined. Our goals were to determine whether the DNA extraction process used by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police eliminates or neutralizes these agents and if not, to establish methods that render samples safe without compromising the human DNA. Our results show that bacteria, viruses, and toxins were reduced to undetectable levels during DNA extraction, but endospores remained viable. Filtration of samples after DNA isolation eliminated viable spores from the samples but left DNA intact. We also demonstrated that contamination of samples with some bacteria, endospores, and toxins for longer than 1 h compromised the ability to complete genetic profiling.

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Keywords Bacteria, Bioweapons, DNA profiling, Forensic science, Toxins, Viruses
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Journal Journal of Forensic Sciences
Timbers, J. (Jason), Wilkinson, D. (Della), Hause, C.C. (Christine C.), Smith, M, Zaidi, M.A. (Mohsin A.), Laframboise, D. (Denis), & Wright, K.E. (Kathryn E.). (2014). Elimination of bioweapons agents from forensic samples during extraction of human DNA. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 59(6), 1530–1540. doi:10.1111/1556-4029.12561