Ancient DNA pp 15-19 | Cite as

Pretreatment: Removing DNA Contamination from Ancient Bones and Teeth Using Sodium Hypochlorite and Phosphate

  • Petra Korlević
  • Matthias MeyerEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1963)


DNA isolated from ancient bones and teeth comprises a mixture of microbial contamination and DNA from the organism under study. In addition, analyses of ancient human remains are often complicated by contamination with present-day human DNA, which can be introduced during excavation and subsequent handling of the specimens. In most cases, the relative abundance of contaminant DNA is much greater than that of the target organism. Here we present two techniques for reducing the proportion of contaminant DNA in bones and teeth. The first and most efficient technique uses a sodium hypochlorite (bleach) pretreatment to destroy contaminant DNA that may be bound or otherwise attached to the surface of bone/tooth powder. The second, less destructive pretreatment uses a phosphate buffer to release surface-bound DNA.

Key words

Ancient DNA DNA contamination Pretreatment Sodium hypochlorite (bleach) Sodium phosphate DNA extraction 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Evolutionary GeneticsMax Planck Institute for Evolutionary AnthropologyLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.European Molecular Biology LaboratoryEuropean Bioinformatics Institute, Wellcome Genome CampusHinxtonUK

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