Impact of Donor Age, Gender and Handling Time on the DNA Concentration Left on Different Surfaces

Branka Gršković†,PhD,ScD(a,b); Dora Markulin,BSc(c); Josip Crnjac,MSc(b); Šimun Anđelinović,PhD,ScD(b,f); Inga Marijanović,PhD,ScD(c); Luka Tomašević,PhD,ScD(d,f); Maja Popović,PhD,ScD(b,e); Dragan Primorac,PhD,ScD(f,g,h,i,j); Gordan Mršić,PhD,ScD(a,b*)

(a)Forensic Science Centre “Ivan Vučetić”, General Police Directorate, Zagreb, Croatia; (b)University Department for Forensic Sciences, University of Split, Split, Croatia; (c)Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia; (d)Catholic Faculty of Theology, University of Split; (e)Department of Biology, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia; (f)University of Split, Medical School, Split, Croatia; (g)University of Osijek, Medical School, Osijek, Croatia; (h)Eberly College of Science, Penn State University, University Park, PA, USA; (i)University of New Haven, West Haven, CT, USA; (j)Genos Ltd, Zagreb, Croatia

*Corresponding author: Gordan Mršić, PhD, ScD. Forensic Science Centre “Ivan Vučetić”; General Police Directorate, Ministry of Interior; Zagreb, Croatia. E-mail:

Published: September 20, 2014.


Background: We analyzed the correlation between several factors (donor age and gender, and handling time) and trace DNA concentration that participants left on different surfaces (paper, plastic, plastic coated metal) while holding items in their hands or rubbing them with their fingers, their palms, and the side of the palm of the dominant hand.

Material and Methods: Sixty participants took part in the study. Items were swabbed with a moistened cotton swab. DNA was isolated using the Chelex procedure and quantified by real-time PCR.

Results: We found that DNA concentration transferred to an item was independent of the handling time. On the contrary, it was dependent on the item’s texture; the greatest concentration was left on plastic coated metal (PCM) and the least on paper. The greatest concentration of trace DNA was left by participants from 35 to 44 years of age. Results of the study showed that men deposit a higher DNA concentration than do women.

Conclusion: Item texture, donor age, and gender influence trace DNA concentration. Further investigations are necessary to fully understand the process of DNA transfer from donors to handled items.

forensic analysis; trace DNA; DNA transfer; shedding.
  1. Gršković B, Zrnec D, Vicković S, Popović M, Mršić G. DNA methylation: the future of crime scene investigation? Mol Biol Rep 2013; 40(7):4349-60.
  2. Gršković B, Zidkova A, Stenzl S, Popović M, Primorac D, Mršić  G. Analysis of 8 X-chromosomal markers in the population of central Croatia. Croat Med J 2013; 54(3):238-47.
  3. Mršić G, Gršković  B, Vrdoljak  A, Popović  M, Valpotić I, Anđelinović Š, et al. Croatian national reference Y-STR haplotype database. Mol Biol Rep 2012; 39(7):7727-41.
  4. Gršković B, Zrnec D, Popović M, Petek MJ, Primorac D, Mršić G. Effect of ultraviolet C radiation on biological samples. Croat Med J 2013; 54(3):263-71.
  5. Primorac D, Schanfield M, editors. Forensic DNA Applications: An Interdisciplinary Perspective. 1st ed. New York: CRC Press Taylor and Francis Group; 2014.
  6. Gill P. Application of low copy number DNA profiling. Croat Med J 2001; 42(3):229-32.
  7. Van Oorschot RAH, Ballantyne KN, Mitchell RJ. Forensic trace DNA: a review. Investig Genet 2010; 1(1):1-14.
  8. Balogh MK, Burger J, Bender K, Schneider PM, Alt KW. STR genotyping and mtDNA sequencing of latent fingerprint on paper. Forensic Sci Int 2003; 137(2-3):188-95.
  9. Butler JM. Fundamentals of forensic DNA typing. Elsevier Academic Press, San Diego; 2010.
  10. Daly DJ, Murphy C, McDermott SD. The transfer of touch DNA from hands to glass, fabric and wood. Forensic Sci Int Genet. 2012; 6(1):41-6.
  11. Djuric M, Varljen T, Stanojevic A, Stojkovic O. DNA typing from handled items. Forensic Sci Int Genet Suppl Ser 2008; 1:411–2.
  12. Kita T, Yamaguchi H, Yokoyama M, Tanaka T, Tanaka N. Morphological study of fragmented DNA on touched objects. Forensic Sci Int Genet 2008; 3(1):32-6.
  13. Low A, Murray C, Whitaker J, Tully G, Gill P. The propensity of individuals to deposit DNA and secondary transfer of low level DNA from individuals to inert surfaces. Forensic Sci Int 2002; 129(1):25-34.
  14. Van Oorschot RAH, Jones MK. DNA fingerprints from fingerprints. Nature. 1997; 387(6635):767.
  15. Wickenheiser RA. Trace DNA: a review, discussion of theory, and application of the transfer of trace quantities of DNA through skin contact. J Forensic Sci 2002; 47(3):442-50.
  16. Farmen RK, Jaghø R, Cortez P, Frøyland ES. Assessment of individual shedder status and implication for secondary DNA transfer. Forensic Sci Int Genet Suppl Ser. 2008; 1: 415–7.
  17. Phipps M, Petricevic S. The tendency of individuals to transfer DNA to handled items. Forensic Sci Int. 2007; 168(2-3):162-8.
  18. Alessandrini F, Cecati M, Pesaresi M, Turchi C, Carle F, Tagliabracci A. Fingerprints as evidence for a genetic profile: Morphological study on fingerprints and analysis of exogenous and individual factors affecting DNA typing. J Forensic Sci 2003; 48:586-92. 
  19. Duke-Elder S. System of ophthalmology, Vol. II: The anatomy of the visual system. Henry Kimpton Publishers, London; 1976.
  20. Quinones I, Daniel B. Cell free DNA as a component of forensic evidence recovered from touched surfaces. Forensic Sci Int Genet 2012; 6(1):26-30.
  21. Bright JA, Petricevic SF. Recovery of trace DNA and its application to DNA-profiling of shoe insoles. Forensic Sci Int 2004; 145(1):7-12.  
  22. Sewell J, Quinones I, Ames C, Multaney B, Curtis S, Seeboruth H, et al. Recovery of DNA and fingerprints from touched documents. Forensic Sci Int Genet 2008; 2(4):281-5.
  23. Raymond JJ. A criminalistic approach to biological evidence: Trace DNA and volume crime offences. Dissertation, University of Technology; 2010.
  24. Van Hoofstat DE, Deforce DL, Hubert De Pauw IP, Van den Eeckhout EG. DNA typing of fingerprints using capillary electrophoresis: effect of dactyloscopic powders. Electrophoresis 1999; 20(14):2870-6.
  25. Van Renterghem P, Leonard D, De Greef C. Use of latent fingerprints as a source of DNA for genetic identification. Prog Forensic Genet 2000; 8:501-3.
  26. Wickenheiser RA, Challoner CM.  Suspect DNA-profiles obtained from the handles of weapons recovered at crime scenes. The Tenth Int Symposium on Human Identification. Promega Corporation, Madison; 1999.
  27. Williamson AL.Touch DNA: forensic collection and application to nvestigations. J Assoc Crime Scene Reconstr 2012; 18(1):1–5.
  28. Walsh PS, Metzger DA, Higuchi R.Chelex 100 as a medium for simple extraction of DNA for PCR-based typing from forensic material. Biotechniques 1991; 10(4):506-13.  
  29. Ithaka, Gentelman R. R: A language for data analysis and graphics.  J Comput Graph Stat 1996; 5(3):299-314.
  30. Goray M, Mitchell RJ, van Oorschot RAH. Investigation of secondary DNA transfer of skin cells under controlled test conditions. Leg Med (Tokyo) 2010; 12(3):117-20.
  31. Raymond JJ, van Oorschot RAH, Walsh SJ, Roux C, Gunn P. Trace DNA and street robbery: a criminalistic approach to DNA evidence. Forensic Sci Int Genet Suppl Ser 2009; (2):544-6.
  32. Butt AN, Swaminathan R. Overview of circulating nucleic acids in plasma/serum. Ann N Y Acad Sci 2008; (1137):236–42.
  33. Freedberg IM, Eisen AZ, Wolff K, Austen KF, Goldsmith LA, Katz, SL. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in general medicine, 6th ed. McGraw-Hill Professional, New York; 2003.
  34. Kamphausen T, Schadendorf D, von Wurmb-Schwark N, Bajanowski T, Poetsch M. Good shedder or bad shedder-the influence of skin diseases on forensic DNA analysis from epithelial abrasions. Int J Legal Med 2012; 126(1):179-83. 
  35. Mehnert P, Bröde P, Griefahn B. Gender-related difference in sweat loss and its impact on exposure limits to heat stress. Int J Ind Ergon 2002; 29:343–51.
  36. Markulin D, Gršković B, Marijanović I, Popović M, Primorac D, Mršić G. Relation of touch DNA from different surfaces with donor age and gender. The eighth ISABS conference in forensic, anthropologic and medical genetics and mayo clinic lectures in translational medicine. 2013; 164.

The fully formatted PDF version is available.       

Download Article

Int J Biomed. 2014; 4(3):169-174. © 2014 International Medical Research and Development Corporation. All rights reserved.