BACKGROUND: DNA analysis of ancient skeletal remains is invaluable in evolutionary biology for exploring the history of species, including humans. Contemporary human bones and teeth, however, are relevant in forensic DNA analyses that deal with the identification of perpetrators, missing persons, disaster victims or family relationships. They may also provide useful information towards unravelling controversies that surround famous historical individuals. Retrieving information about a deceased person’s externally visible characteristics can be informative in both types of DNA analyses. Recently, we demonstrated that human eye and hair colour can be reliably predicted from DNA using the HIrisPlex system. Here we test the feasibility of the novel HIrisPlex system at establishing eye and hair colour of deceased individuals from skeletal remains of various post-mortem time ranges and storage conditions. METHODS: Twenty-one teeth between 1 and approximately 800 years of age and 5 contemporary bones were subjected to DNA extraction using standard organic protocol followed by analysis using the HIrisPlex system. RESULTS: Twenty-three out of 26 bone DNA extracts yielded the full 24 SNP HIrisPlex profile, therefore successfully allowing model-based eye and hair colour prediction. HIrisPlex analysis of a tooth from the Polish general W[latin small letter l with stroke]adys[latin small letter l with stroke]aw Sikorski (1881 to 1943) revealed blue eye colour and blond hair colour, which was positively verified from reliable documentation. The partial profiles collected in the remaining three cases (two contemporary samples and a 14th century sample) were sufficient for eye colour prediction. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, we demonstrate that the HIrisPlex system is suitable, sufficiently sensitive and robust to successfully predict eye and hair colour from ancient and contemporary skeletal remains. Our findings, therefore, highlight the HIrisPlex system as a promising tool in future routine forensic casework involving skeletal remains, including ancient DNA studies, for the prediction of eye and hair colour of deceased individuals.
The identification and articulation of programme theory can support effective design, execution and evaluation of quality improvement (QI) initiatives. Programme theory includes an agreed aim, potential interventions to achieve this aim, anticipated cause/effect relationships between the interventions and the aim and measures to monitor improvement. This paper outlines the approach used in a research and improvement programme to support QI initiatives in identifying and articulating programme theory: the action effect method.
DNA barcoding is a molecular tool that exploits a unique DNA sequence of a standardized gene or non-coding region for the species identification of unknown individuals. The investigation into a suitable barcode for diatoms is ongoing and there are several promising candidates including mitochondrial, plastidial and nuclear markers. We analyzed 272 sequences from 76 diatoms species in the orders Thalassiosirales, Lithodesmiales and Cymatosirales, using distance and character based approaches, to assess the applicability of a DNA barcode based on the hypervariable V4 region of the nuclear 18S rRNA gene. We show that the proposed V4 barcode separated ca. 97% of all centric diatom taxa tested using a threshold p-distance of 0.02 and that many problem pairs were further separated using a character based approach. The reliability of amplification, extensive reference library and variability seen in the V4 region make it the most promising candidate to date for a barcode marker for diatoms particularly when combined with DNA character analysis.
In studies of change blindness, observers often have the phenomenological impression that the blindness is overcome all at once, so that change detection, localization and identification apparently occur together. Three experiments are described that explore dissociations between these processes using a discrete trial procedure in which 2 visual frames are presented sequentially with no intervening inter-frame-interval. The results reveal that change detection and localization are essentially perfect under these conditions regardless of the number of elements in the display, which is consistent with the idea that change detection and localization are mediated by pre-attentive parallel processes.In contrast, identification accuracy for an item before it changes is generally poor, and is heavily dependent on the number of items displayed. Identification accuracy after a change is substantially better, but depends on the new item’s duration. This suggests that the change captures attention, which substantially enhances the likelihood of correctly identifying the new item. However, the results also reveal a limited capacity to identify unattended items. Specifically, we provide evidence that strongly suggests that, at least under these conditions, observers were able to identify two items without focused attention. Our results further suggest that spatial pre-cues that attract attention to an item before the change occurs simply ensure that the cued item is one of the two whose identity is encoded.
BACKGROUND: Understanding implementation processes is key to ensuring that complex interventions in healthcare are taken up in practice and thus maximize intended benefits for service provision and (ultimately) care to patients. Normalization Process Theory (NPT) provides a framework for understanding how a new intervention becomes part of normal practice. This study aims to develop and validate simple generic tools derived from NPT, to be used to improve the implementation of complex healthcare interventions.Objectives: The objectives of this study are to: develop a set of NPT-based measures and formatively evaluate their use for identifying implementation problems and monitoring progress; conduct preliminary evaluation of these measures across a range of interventions and contexts, and identify factors that affect this process; explore the utility of these measures for predicting outcomes; and develop an online users' manual for the measures. METHODS: A combination of qualitative (workshops, item development, user feedback, cognitive interviews) and quantitative (survey) methods will be used to develop NPT measures, and test the utility of the measures in six healthcare intervention settings. DISCUSSION: The measures developed in the study will be available for use by those involved in planning, implementing, and evaluating complex interventions in healthcare and have the potential to enhance the chances of their implementation, leading to sustained changes in working practices.
Highly fragmented and morphologically indistinct fossil bone is common in archaeological and paleontological deposits but unfortunately it is of little use in compiling faunal assemblages. The development of a cost-effective methodology to taxonomically identify bulk bone is therefore a key challenge. Here, an ancient DNA methodology using high-throughput sequencing is developed to survey and analyse thousands of archaeological bones from southwest Australia. Fossils were collectively ground together depending on which of fifteen stratigraphical layers they were excavated from. By generating fifteen synthetic blends of bulk bone powder, each corresponding to a chronologically distinct layer, samples could be collectively analysed in an efficient manner. A diverse range of taxa, including endemic, extirpated and hitherto unrecorded taxa, dating back to c.46,000 years BP was characterized. The method is a novel, cost-effective use for unidentifiable bone fragments and a powerful molecular tool for surveying fossils that otherwise end up on the taxonomic “scrapheap”.
In recent decades, fresh and minimally processed produce items have been associated with an increasing proportion of foodborne illnesses. Most pathogens associated with fresh produce are enteric (fecal) in origin, and contamination can occur anywhere along the farm-to-fork chain. Microbial source tracking (MST) is a tool developed in the environmental microbiology field to identify and quantify the dominant source(s) of fecal contamination. This study investigated the utility of an MST method based on Bacteroidales 16S rDNA sequences as a means of identifying potential fecal contamination, and its source, in the fresh produce production environment. The method was applied to rinses of fresh produce, source and irrigation waters, and harvester hand rinses collected over the course of one year from nine farms (growing tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, and cantaloupe) in Northern Mexico. Of 174 samples, 39% were positive for a universal Bacteroidales marker (AllBac), including 66% of samples from cantaloupe farms (3.6 log10 genome equivalence copies [GEC]/100 ml), 31% of samples from tomato farms (1.7 log10 GEC/100 ml), and 18% of samples from jalapeño farms (1.5 log10 GEC/100 ml). Of 68 AllBac-positive samples, 46% were positive for one of 3 human-specific markers (BFD, HF183, BVulg), and none were positive for a bovine-specific marker (BoBac). There was no statistically significant correlation between Bacteroidales and generic E. coli across all samples. This study provides evidence that Bacteroidales markers may serve as alternative indicators for fecal contamination in fresh produce production, allowing for determination of both general contamination and that derived from the human host.
Presumptive identification of different Enterobacteriaceae species is routinely achieved based on the biochemical properties. Traditional practice includes manual comparison of each biochemical property of the unknown sample with known reference samples and inference of its identity based on the maximum similarity pattern with the known samples. This process is labor-intensive, time-consuming, error-prone, and subjective. Therefore, automation of sorting and similarity calculation would be advantageous. Here we present a MATLAB-based graphical user interface (GUI) tool named BioCluster. This tool was designed for automated clustering and identification of Enterobacteriaceae based on biochemical test results. In this tool, we used two types of algorithms, i.e., traditional hierarchical clustering (HC) and the Improved Hierarchical Clustering (IHC), a modified algorithm that was developed specifically for the clustering and identification of Enterobacterioceae species. IHC takes into account the variability in result of 1-47 biochemical tests within this Enterobacterioceae family. This tool also provides different options to optimize the clustering in a user-friendly way. Using computer-generated synthetic data and some real data, we have demonstrated that BioCluster has high accuracy in clustering and identifying enterobacterial species based on biochemical test data. This tool can be freely downloaded at http://microbialgen.du.ac.bd/biocluster/.
Whole-genome sequencing is performed routinely as a means to identify polymorphic genetic loci such as short tandem repeat loci. We have developed a simple tool, called pSTR Finder, which is freely available as a means of identifying putative polymorphic short tandem repeat (STR) loci from data generated from genome-wide sequences. The program performs cross comparisons on the STR sequences generated using the Tandem Repeats Finder based on multiple-genome samples in a FASTA format. These comparisons generate reports listing identical, polymorphic, and different STR loci when comparing two samples.
DNA testing is an established part of the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault. The primary purpose of DNA evidence is to identify a suspect and/or to demonstrate sexual contact. However, due to highly uneven proportions of female and male DNA in typical stains, routine autosomal analysis often fails to detect the DNA of the assailant. To evaluate the forensic efficiency of the combined application of autosomal and Y-chromosomal short tandem repeat (STR) markers, we present a large retrospective casework study of probative evidence collected in sexual-assault cases. We investigated up to 39 STR markers by testing combinations of the 16-locus NGMSElect kit with both the 23-locus PowerPlex Y23 and the 17-locus Yfiler kit. Using this dual approach we analyzed DNA extracts from 2077 biological stains collected in 287 cases over 30 months. To assess the outcome of the combined approach in comparison to stand-alone autosomal analysis we evaluated informative DNA profiles. Our investigation revealed that Y-STR analysis added up to 21% additional, highly informative (complete, single-source) profiles to the set of reportable autosomal STR profiles for typical stains collected in sexual-assault cases. Detection of multiple male contributors was approximately three times more likely with Y-chromosomal profiling than with autosomal STR profiling. In summary, 1/10 cases would have remained inconclusive (and could have been dismissed) if Y-STR analysis had been omitted from DNA profiling in sexual-assault cases.