Trip to Innsbruck

A few weeks ago I went to Insbruck to meet with professor Walther Parson and Petra Kralj, who are responsible for carrying out the DNA analyses for my project, and to give a talk to the staff at GMI about my research. Walther Parson is supervising the work but it is Petra Kralj (PhD candidate at GMI) who are actually doing the DNA extractions. The meeting went well and we talked about the results from the first batch of extractions. As expected, the amount and quality of the DNA extracted, varied between the bone samples but the overall picture is promising. There is no doubt the extractions are of such a quality that the further analyses will be very interesting.

It was nice to meet Petra who gave me a presentation of what is actually happening to the bones samples. The process of extracting DNA from bone is meticulous one and below I want to show you what Petra showed me. The following presentation is written by Petra Kralj and the photos are hers as well (reproduced here with persmission).

Every single piece of bone will go through this process. Every photo, corresponding information and results will follow the bone fragment and the related skeleton for future use. All information will be made available for other researchers shortly after this project is finished.


Description of what happens to the bone samples from Trondheim, by Petra Kralj.

A cardboard box containing Trondheim bone samples and reference material for comparison was delivered to the Institute of Legal Medicine in Innsbruck (Austria) for the study of mitochondrial deoxyribonucleic acid (mtDNA) and autosomal Short Tandem Repeats (STRs, microsatellites) on July 16th 2013. After some detailed photographs of the outer surface of the shipment and its contents had been taken, the contents were unpacked, described and thoroughly photo-documented. The 63 double labelled cup containers, each containing one piece of the femur (or tibia) bone of an individual, could be divided into five groups by the label (sample name) and further into two groups by the estimated age.

The bone samples were weighed, photographed from all four sides and measured (length, width, thickness). Furthermore they were sawn into two similar sized pieces, both of which have been weighed again and stored separately into sterilised double labelled cup containers for further DNA analyses. In the next step, the first batch of bone samples (sample halves) was mechanically and chemically cleaned and subsequently powdered using a ball mill. After powder lysis and demineralisation DNA was extracted. The amount of DNA was determined using a real-time DNA quantification method (Niederstätter et al 2007, Bauer et al 2013). The mitochondrial DNA control region was analysed according to (Berger and Parson, 2009).

Positive and negative controls were used through-out the process.


Photos 1 and 2: Photo-documentation of the shipment contents 

1 2


Photo 3: Sample cup container



Photo 4: Sample container with the sample



Photo 5: Inner surface



 Photo 6: Outer surface



Photo 7: Left cut end



Photo 8: Right cut end



Photo 9: Bone sample halving



Photo 10: Mechanical cleaning



Photo 11: Chemical cleaning


Photo 12: Grinding by means of a bone mill


Photo 13: The hybridization oven for demineralisation of bone powder


Photo 14: DNA extraction


Photo 15: DNA extract


5 Responses to “Trip to Innsbruck”

  1. Charles Utvik Says:

    Interessant! Prosjektet skrider fram.

  2. hif001 Says:

    Hei Charles. Det g√•r fremover. Forel√łping mest pr√łver og analyser, men til v√•ren regner jeg med resultatene begynner √• komme inn. Det tror jeg kan bli spennende. God jul!

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Immigration and mobility in mediaeval and post-mediaeval Norway
Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion, University of Bergen

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