Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-9-2020

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Chemistry and Biochemistry

First Advisor

Murrell Godfrey

Second Advisor

Susan Pedigo

Third Advisor

Gregory Tschumper

Relational Format



This research focuses on constructing a procedure that allows for the nondestructive extraction of mtDNA from teeth for forensic DNA analysis. Currently, only a destructive method for extracting DNA from teeth is used in the forensic laboratory to identify an individual. A disadvantage of extracting DNA through a destructive method is the complete or partial loss of the tooth. To extract DNA through a destructive method, the tooth must either be cut horizontally or vertically to access the pulp, or the root ground into a powder to extract DNA from the dentine-cementum. With the destruction of the tooth, additional forensic or structural information that could have been retrieved from the same tooth is lost.

A nondestructive method would preserve the tooth since no invasive procedures are needed to access its DNA. Instead, the tooth would be subjected to a series of buffers, including extraction, washing buffers 1 and 2, and elution buffers. The series of buffers will remove the DNA from the dentine and cementum of the tooth without damaging the tooth.

Three nondestructive method trials were conducted in the laboratory that yielded no detectable levels of DNA. Positive and negative controls were added to the nondestructive method to monitor each step of the procedure along with fresh reagents and PCR kits. Unfortunately, the results suggest that the DNA in the teeth samples might have already been degraded since the control electrophoresis data displayed the expected electrophoresis band at ~383 base pairs. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, research progress for this procedure was halted abruptly before the procedure could be tested on intact DNA samples.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Available for download on Saturday, May 08, 2021

Included in

Dentistry Commons