Application of Mitochondrial DNA Analysis in Contemporary and Historical Samples

Sammanfattning: The mitochondrion is a tiny organelle that is the power supplier of the cell and vital to the functioning of the body organs. Additionally it contains a small circular genome of about 16 kb, present in many copies which makes the mitochondrial DNA more viable than nuclear DNA. Mitochondrial DNA is also maternally inherited and thus provides a direct link to maternal relatives. These two properties are of particular use for forensic samples, which only contain limited or degraded amounts of DNA, and for historical samples (ancient DNA). This thesis presents work on the mitochondrial DNA in the hypervariable regions (HV) I and II, in both contemporary and historical samples. Forensic genetics makes use of mitochondrial DNA analysis in court as circumstantial evidence, and population databases are used for the calculation of evidence value. Population samples (299) across Sweden have been analysed in order to enrich the EDNAP mtDNA database (EMPOP) (paper I). The application of mitochondrial DNA analysis allowed for analysis of historical skeletal remains: Copernicus, 1473-1543 (paper II), Karin Göring, 1888-1931 (paper III) and Medieval bones, 880-1000 AD, from a mass grave found in Sigtuna, Sweden (paper IV). The thesis also includes analyses of bones and teeth from the shipwrecked crew of the Vasa warship, 1628, samples from the Vasa museum, Stockholm, Sweden (paper V). Overall, the varying age of the samples and the different conservation environments (soil and water) accounted for variations in quality, but still allowed for successful DNA analysis.