Recovery of DNA from Footprints in the Snow

Love Dalén, Anders Götherström, Tomas Meijer, Beth Shapiro


The recovery of trace amounts of DNA has been demonstrated to be a reliable tool in conservation genetics and has become a key component of modern forensic casework. To date, genetic data have been successfully recovered from a variety of sources, including biological fluids, faeces, clothing, and even directly from fingerprints. However, to our knowledge and despite their widespread occurrence and clear potential as a source of DNA, genetic information has not previously been recovered directly from footprints. Here, we extract and amplify mitochondrial DNA from a snow footprint, <48-hours old, made by a Swedish Arctic Fox (Alopex lagopus). Our results demonstrate that it is possible to recover sufficient DNA from recent footprints to accurately type the source of the print, with implications for conservation biology and forensic science.


Arctic Fox; Alopex lagopus; Red Fox; Vulpes vulpes; trace DNA; conservation biology; forensics

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