A rapid screening method using DNA binding dyes to determine whether hair follicles have sufficient DNA for successful profiling

Alicia Haines, Adrian Linacre

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)


    We report a simple screening method to assess the viability of successful DNA profiling from single hair follicles. A total of 48 hair samples (shed and plucked) were collected from male and female donors and the root tips (0.5 cm) were stained using one of three DNA binding dyes (EvaGreen™, Diamond™ Nucleic Acid Dye and RedSafe™) at 20× concentration. The hairs were subsequently viewed under a Nikon Optiphot fluorescent microscope to count the approximate number of nuclei in one plane of view. The hairs were then processed using either (1) a DNA extraction kit (QIAmp® Mini Kit) and then amplified using the AmpFLSTR® NGM™ kit, which amplifies 15 short tandem repeat (STR) loci plus the gender marker amelogenin, or (2) by direct PCR amplification using the same DNA profiling kit. Diamond™ dye had the lowest background signal and plucked hairs treated with this dye produced full DNA profiles when amplified directly and was chosen to screen a further 150 mixed hair samples. These hairs were separated into one of five categories (1, >100 nuclei; 1.5, 50-99 nuclei; 2, 1-49 nuclei; 2.5, no nuclei but high fluorescent signal; 3, no nuclei and very low fluorescent signal) from which 60 of the hairs were chosen to undergo direct amplification using the NGM™ kit. It was found that there was a direct correlation to the category designation and the ability to obtain a DNA profile up-loadable to the Australian DNA Database. Approximately 91% of category 1 hairs resulted in either a full or high partial (12-29 alleles) profile by direct PCR whereas about 78% of category 3 hairs exhibited no amplification. The results show that this method can be used to predict successful STR amplification from single hair follicles. It is a rapid, sensitive, cheap, non-destructive and easy to perform methodology applicable for screening multiple hairs in order to aid forensic investigators in predicting hairs that will yield DNA results.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)190-195
    Number of pages6
    JournalForensic Science International
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


    • Diamond™ Nucleic Acid Dye
    • Fluorescence microscopy
    • Forensic evidence recovery
    • Hair follicles
    • STR analysis


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