The use of FTA cards to acquire DNA profiles from postmortem cases

  • Henrik Green
  • Andreas Tillmar
  • Gisela Pettersson
  • Kerstin MonteliusEmail author
Original Article


Filter papers have been used for many years in different applications of molecular biology and have been proven to be a stable way to store DNA waiting to be analyzed. Sampling of DNA on FTA (Flinders Technology Associates) cards is convenient and cost effective compared to alternative approaches involving DNA extractions and storage of DNA extracts. FTA cards are analyzed at many forensic laboratories, and the way to perform direct genetic profiling on buccal swab cards has developed into an almost industrial process. The possibility to include postmortem (PM) samples into an FTA-based workflow would facilitate and speed up the genetic identification process compared to conventional methods, both on a regular basis and in a mass casualty event. In this study, we investigated if FTA cards may be used to carry tissue DNA from deceased and present a high-quality DNA profile from the individual in order to be useful for the identification process. The study also aimed to investigate if a specific body tissue would be preferable, and if decomposed tissue is suitable at all to put on an FTA card in order to obtain a DNA profile. We have compared the quality of the DNA profiles acquired from postmortem tissue on FTA cards, with the results acquired with conventional methods from reference bone/muscle samples from the same individual. Several types of tissues have been tested from different identification cases and scenarios. We concluded that tissue cells from inner organs are suitable to put on FTA cards, and that the obtained DNA profiles have the potential to serve as PM data for identification purposes. In cases including compromised samples, however, it is recommended to keep the tissue sample as a backup if further DNA has to be extracted.


DNA FTA Postmortem Disaster victim identification Mass disaster Human identification 



This research was conducted within the Strategic Research Area Forensic Sciences (Strategiområdet Forensiska Vetenskaper) at Linköping University.

This work was supported by National Board of Forensic Medicine.

This work was approved according to the National Board of Forensic Medicine research policy (RMV-policy No. 2008-01).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Forensic Genetics and Forensic ToxicologyNational Board of Forensic MedicineLinköpingSweden
  2. 2.Division of Drug Research, Department of Medical and Health SciencesLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden
  3. 3.Division of Cell Biology, Department of Clinical and Experimental MedicineLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden
  4. 4.Department of Forensic Medicine, Division of Forensic Medicine UmeåNational Board of Forensic MedicineUMEÅSweden

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