Body fluids, DNA, Extraction (Chemistry), Forensic sciences, RNA


Biological material (fluids or tissues) whether from the victim or suspect is often collected as forensic evidence, and methods to obtain and analyze the DNA found in that material have been well established. The type of body fluid (i.e. blood, saliva, semen, vaginal secretions, and menstrual blood) from which the DNA originated is also of interest, and messenger RNA typing provides a specific and sensitive means of body fluid identification. In order for mRNA profiling to be utilized in routine forensic casework, RNA of sufficient quantity and quality must be obtained from biological fluid stains and the methods used for RNA analysis must be fully compatible with current DNA analysis methodologies. Several DNA/RNA co-extraction methods were evaluated based on the quantity and quality of DNA and RNA recovered and were also compared to standard non-co-extraction methods. The two most promising methods, the in-house developed NCFS co-extraction and the commercially available AllPrep DNA/RNA Mini kit, were then optimized by improving nucleic acid recovery and consistency of CE (capillary electrophoresis) detection results. The sensitivity of the two methods was also evaluated, and DNA and RNA profiles could be obtained for the lowest amount of blood (0.2 µL) and saliva and semen (1 µL) tested. Both extraction methods were found to be acceptable for use with forensic samples, and the ability to obtain full DNA profiles was not hindered by the co-extraction of RNA. It is generally believed that RNA is less stable than DNA which may prevent its use in forensic casework. However, the degradation rates of DNA and RNA in the same biological fluid stain have not been directly compared. To determine the relative stability of DNA and RNA, the optimized NCFS co-extraction protocol was used to isolate DNA and RNA from iv environmentally compromised stains. Dried blood, saliva, and semen stains and vaginal secretions swabs were incubated at set temperatures and outside for up to 1 year. Even at 56°C, DNA and RNA were both stable out to 1 year in the blood and semen stains, out to 3 months (DNA) and 1 year (RNA) in the saliva stains, and out to 6 months (DNA) and 3 months (RNA) in the vaginal secretions swabs. The recoverability of both nucleic acids was reduced when the samples were exposed to increased humidity, sunlight, and rain. In general, DNA and RNA stability was found to be similar with a loss in ability to obtain a DNA or RNA profile occurring at the same time point; however, there were instances where RNA body fluid markers were detected when a poor/no DNA profile was obtained, indicating that RNA in dried stains is sufficiently stable for mRNA body fluid typing to be used in forensic casework.


If this is your thesis or dissertation, and want to learn how to access it or for more information about readership statistics, contact us at

Graduation Date





Ballantyne, Jack


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program

Forensic Science








Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences, Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic