Anna Bretschneider

Since the beginning of ancient DNA (aDNA) research, much research has been done on the properties of aDNA. After an organism dies, repair mechanisms stop working, leaving DNA vulnerable to intracellular nucleases and external microbial activity. In addition, other environmental factors such as temperature, pH-value, humidity, and the presence of oxygen affect the integrity of DNA.

The fragment length of aDNA has been a matter of debate since the 1990s. Initially, especially the authenticity of long fragments was questioned, as these were considered to be contamination through modern DNA rather than authentic aDNA fragments. These statements were based on the assumption that the older a sample is, the more fragmented the DNA it contains. Over the years, however, several studies have shown that there is no correlation between time and the extent of fragmentation. Furthermore, Haack et al. (2000) were able to prove that fragments of a size of 800 bp can be routinely detected in aDNA. Nevertheless, the consensus within the aDNA community is that short fragments in the range of 200 to 300 bp are predominantly present in aDNA extracts and that longer aDNA fragments are not detectable. However, studies investigating the maximum amplifiable fragment length in aDNA cannot be found. Therefore, the aim of the master thesis is to investigate the maximum authentic amplicon length detectable in aDNA using PCR. For this purpose, an approach based on STR-typing (genetic fingerprinting) and its variants will be used.


  • Bretschneider A, Mazanec J, Wittmeier P, Flux AL, Schmidt D, Hummel S (2023) X-chromosomal STRs in aDNA kinship analysis. Anthropol Anzeiger – Preprints. doi: 10.1127/anthranz/2023/1714
    • Nováček J, Mazanec J, Bretschneider A,Flux AL, Tannhäuser C, Hummel S (2022) Sex Determination using Archaeological, Anthropological, and Genetic Methods – a Comparative Study on a Merovingian Population from Gotha – Boilstädt. Anthropologie (Brno) 60, 2: 403-431. Online Version