Thesis abstract ‘Sex Determination of Humans and Cultural Significant Species’

05th January 2014

Carney Matheson

BSc(Postgraduate Diploma of Science), Department of Biochemistry, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, January 1998

In archaeology it is very important to be able to identify the sex of biological remains. Morphological sexing is only possible in cases where whole skeletons survive. However most biological remains in the archaeological record are in the form of hair, faecal matter, bone fragments, mummified tissue, blood smears and residues. An alternative approach is to use a molecular test based on the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for sexing such remains. Currently PCR-based tests exist for sex identification in single species such as humans or bovines, however in archaeological remains the species is usually uncertain. For this reason the aim of this project was to design a PCR-based test that is capable of sexing remains of any mammalian species.

One of the major molecular differences between the sexes is the presence of the Y chromosome, which is present in males but absent in females. A test was devised based on a conserved region of the Y-linked sex determining gene (SRY). This test was first applied to a panel of modem DNA samples from a variety of mammalian species, of which the sex was known. Of eleven male samples shown to have amplifiable DNA, ten gave a positive result; no positives were observed on female samples. The test was subsequently applied to ten ancient samples from Cay6nU Tepesi, a 9400-year-old archaeological site in the southeast of Turkey. While these samples had been morphologically sexed, the molecular sexing of these samples was performed as a blind test. Two of the four male samples were positive, while all female samples were negative. These ancient samples were retested with a second designed sex identification test. This second test was human specific and three of the four males were successfully identified. The fourth male sample was retested multiple times and still produced a negative result for the identification of the male specific markers. It is presently thought to be incorrectly identified morphologically.

These results demonstrate that the test designed in this project is useful for sexing samples from a variety of mammalian species and is absolutely specific for males under the conditions used, but is not adequate in forensic detection of human males from old samples. This problem is overcome by employing the use of a second set of human male specific primers. Forensic identification of remains routinely utilises two or more tests to confirm their results, as adopted by this project.

Matheson, C.
Thesis abstract 'Sex Determination of Humans and Cultural Significant Species'
June 1998
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Thesis Abstracts
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