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Tags dna , forensics

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Old 9th May 2008, 05:38 AM   #1
EvilSmurf
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Can you get testable DNA from...um....fecal matter?

A few of my coworkers were telling me a situation that happened at this workplace about a year ago (before I had started working there). Someone defecated in an area of the plant which is not reserved for such as an activity (i.e. it was not in the restrooms, and was in an area of the plant far from the rest room). They were telling me the supervisors were threatening to DNA test the fecal matter and take DNA of everyone who worked there to find out who it was. Which led me to the question in the title of the thread. So, can you?
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Old 9th May 2008, 06:11 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by EvilSmurf View Post
A few of my coworkers were telling me a situation that happened at this workplace about a year ago (before I had started working there). Someone defecated in an area of the plant which is not reserved for such as an activity (i.e. it was not in the restrooms, and was in an area of the plant far from the rest room). They were telling me the supervisors were threatening to DNA test the fecal matter and take DNA of everyone who worked there to find out who it was. Which led me to the question in the title of the thread. So, can you?
That doesn't really sound legal, but IANAL. DNA testing is more accurate if you have a specific suspect.

However, part of the fecal material is cells shed from the lining of your gut. It might be a bit trickier than other samples (relatively low concentration of your own cells vs. other material and microbes), but it can be done.

Linda
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Old 9th May 2008, 06:15 AM   #3
EvilSmurf
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Originally Posted by fls View Post
That doesn't really sound legal, but IANAL. DNA testing is more accurate if you have a specific suspect.

However, part of the fecal material is cells shed from the lining of your gut. It might be a bit trickier than other samples (relatively low concentration of your own cells vs. other material and microbes), but it can be done.

Linda
IANAL either but I'd assume if they did it on a "voluntary" basis (taking note of who didn't volunteer) it would be legal.
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Old 9th May 2008, 06:17 AM   #4
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I imagine it wouldn't be cheap either, so I'd seriously doubt that it's more than a bluff.
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Old 9th May 2008, 06:25 AM   #5
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Strange, but I just had a thought. I saw a case where the dad killed his young son. They found vomit in the truck and they found cereal but could not check for DNA. I don't remember details but there is something in vomit that kills DNA. I'm wondering if fecal material is the same way or not or are the cells in there not affected.
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Old 9th May 2008, 06:29 AM   #6
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Yes, it is possible, even when the poop is 14Ky-old.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7329505.stm

Now, regarding the specific case you cited, technical aspects aside, when it comes to costs and the legal aspects I have no iea.
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Old 9th May 2008, 06:43 AM   #7
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This happens all the time in the lab I work at (not the situation, but the testing type).
It is possible to get good DNA extracts from stools as the epithelial cells of the culprit would be deposited on the surface of the stool (assuming it's solid), but the DNA processing and analysis is expensive and not worthwhile unless the company can afford it - I doubt it would, unless they have nothing better to do with their time.
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Old 9th May 2008, 06:50 AM   #8
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Strange, but I just had a thought. I saw a case where the dad killed his young son. They found vomit in the truck and they found cereal but could not check for DNA. I don't remember details but there is something in vomit that kills DNA. I'm wondering if fecal material is the same way or not or are the cells in there not affected.
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Old 9th May 2008, 06:53 AM   #9
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Dang. My computer and dial up service is way too slow. My first comment was supposed to be 3rd. Sorry.
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Old 9th May 2008, 06:53 AM   #10
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I presume it's probably also not that uncommon to find...hairs...from the fecal extracting area.
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Old 9th May 2008, 06:58 AM   #11
sadluxation
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Originally Posted by MaryCBW View Post
Strange, but I just had a thought. I saw a case where the dad killed his young son. They found vomit in the truck and they found cereal but could not check for DNA. I don't remember details but there is something in vomit that kills DNA. I'm wondering if fecal material is the same way or not or are the cells in there not affected.
I get a strange feeling of deja-vu with this one.
Vomit would be high in acid and enzymes, which would degrade your DNA very rapidly. I'm not sure how much "template" DNA you could get out of it to be useful for STR "DNA Finger printing" analysis and what quality it would be in.
I don't know of any procedures used for this, but in the circumstances, working out what type of breakfast cereal it was would be interesting evidence. If it matched with what was found in the victims house (depending on its popularity) could narrow down the search somewhat.
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