Human background DNA on stones in an urban environment.

Sorg, Aileen; Gouy, Alexandre; Tièche, Colin Charles; Zieger, Martin (2023). Human background DNA on stones in an urban environment. Forensic science international. Genetics, 65, p. 102880. Elsevier 10.1016/j.fsigen.2023.102880

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Stones are frequently used as tools in criminal acts. In our department, around 5 % of all analysed crime scene related trace samples are contact or touch DNA traces swabbed from stones. These samples are primarily related to cases of damage to property and burglary. In court, questions can arise about DNA transfer and the persistence of background DNA not related to the respective crime. To shed some light on the question of how likely it is to detect human DNA as background DNA on stones from an urban environment, the surfaces of 108 stones sampled throughout the city of Bern, the Swiss capital, were swabbed. We detected a median quantity of 33 pg on the sampled stones. STR-profiles suitable for a CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) registration in the Swiss DNA database were established from 6.5 % of all sampled stone surfaces. For comparison, retrospective casework data analysis from routine crime scene samples demonstrates a success rate of 20.6 % for the establishment of CODIS-suitable DNA profiles from stones sampled for touch DNA. We further investigated how climatic conditions, location and properties of the stones affected the quantity and quality of the recovered DNA. In this study, we show that the quantity of the measurable DNA decreases significantly with increasing temperature. Furthermore, less DNA could be recovered from porous stones, compared to smooth ones.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine
04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine > Forensic Molecular Biology

UniBE Contributor:

Sorg, Aileen, Gouy, Alexandre Pierre, Tièche, Colin, Zieger, Martin


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Pubmed Import

Date Deposited:

01 May 2023 10:48

Last Modified:

16 Jun 2023 00:14

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Background DNA Burglary Riot Stone Touch DNA Transfer




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