University of Oulu

Kirkinen, T., Honka, J., Salazar, D., Kvist, L., Saastamoinen, M., & Hemmann, K. (2022). Determination of different predictors affecting DNA concentration isolated from historical hairs of the Finnhorse. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 41, 103262.

Determination of different predictors affecting DNA concentration isolated from historical hairs of the Finnhorse

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Author: Kirkinen, Tuija1; Honka, Johanna2; Salazar, Daniel2;
Organizations: 1Dept. of Cultures, Archaeology, P.O. Box 59, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
2Dept. of Ecology and Genetics, P.O. Box 3000, Linnamaa, 90014 University of Oulu, Finland
3Natural Resources Institute Finland Luke, Production Systems, Tietotie 2, 31600 Jokioinen, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 19.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2021
Publish Date: 2022-06-21


Everyday objects manufactured from raw materials of animal origin, such as skin, hair and bone, are innumerable in cultural historical museums and private collections. Besides their value as memoirs of past techniques, livelihoods and communities, they are a unique source for studying past animal populations by means of molecular analysis.

Here, we deal with horse mane and tail hair, a type of predecessor of modern synthetic material utilized, for example, for brushes, strings, tennis rackets, ropes, textiles, dolls’ hair, rocking horses, and filling. By investigating the presence and quality of DNA in horsehair, we have studied the origins of the Finnhorse, the only native horse breed in Finland. Degradation of DNA in old samples is an issue that needs to be considered when selecting material for DNA analysis. For assessing the usability of historical artefacts for DNA-based studies, we study how DNA is preserved in horsehair and how well DNA can be isolated from 50 to 150-year-old artefacts, raw material bundles and archaeological finds. We investigate how the properties of hair and sample storage conditions affect the concentration of DNA extracts and success in Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).

Our analysis showed that historical hair shafts, stored in various environments and used for multiple purposes, are of sufficient quantity and quality for amplification by PCR. Therefore, their value for the research of past animal populations should be noticed when curating cultural historical collections. We also provide advice for the storage conditions for hair samples.

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Series: Journal of archaeological science. Reports
ISSN: 2352-409X
ISSN-E: 2352-4103
ISSN-L: 2352-409X
Volume: 41
Article number: 103262
DOI: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2021.103262
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1184 Genetics, developmental biology, physiology
1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This work was supported by the Alfred Kordelin Foundation in Finland.
Dataset Reference: Supplementary data to this article can be found online at https://doi. org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2021.103262. org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2021.103262
Copyright information: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (