Contamination is one of the most troublesome aspects of ancient DNA analysis. Resulting from the ease with which samples may be contaminated, decontaminating ancient remains has become a necessary step in ancient DNA analysis. Unfortunately, there have been no controlled studies of the efficacy of current decontamination techniques. This study examined a variety of chemicals to test their effectiveness at removing DNA within solution. Bleach, being the most effective chemical destroyer of DNA, was subsequently tested in a controlled experiment using an artificial DNA fragment for contamination and an ancient animal proxy. Results indicated that submersion in 100% household bleach for 5 to 10 minutes was the most efficient technique for removing contaminant DNA on ancient bone surfaces. However, this treatment may not adequately decontaminate heavily and deeply contaminated bone samples since 100% bleach could not remove contaminant DNA that has been soaked into bone, even after 20 minutes of exposure.
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