DNA identification of skeletal remains from world war II mass graves uncovered in Slovenia

Damir Marjanović, Adaleta Durmić-Pašić, Narcisa Bakal, Sanin Haverić, Belma Kalamujić, Lejla Kovačević, Jasmin Ramić, Naris Pojskić, Vedrana Škaro, Petar Projić, Kasim Bajrović, Rifat Hadžiselimović, Katja Drobnić, Edwin Huffine, Jon Davoren, Dragan Primorac

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Aim: To present the joint effort of three institutions in the identification of human remains from the World War II found in two mass graves in the area of Škofja Loka, Slovenia. Methods: The remains of 27 individuals were found in two small and closely located mass graves. The DNA was isolated from bone and teeth samples using either standard phenol/chloroform alcohol extraction or optimized Qiagen DNA extraction procedure. Some recovered samples required the employment of additional DNA purification methods, such as N-buthanol treatment. Quantifiler™ Human DNA Quantification Kit was used for DNA quantification. PowerPlex 16 kit was used to simultaneously amplify 15 short tandem repeat (STR) loci. Matching probabilities were estimated using the DNA View program. Results: Out of all processed samples, 15 remains were fully profiled at all 15 STR loci. The other 12 profiles were partial. The least successful profile included 13 loci. Also, 69 referent samples (buccal swabs) from potential living relatives were collected and profiled. Comparison of victims' profile against referent samples database resulted in 4 strong matches. In addition, 5 other profiles were matched to certain referent samples with lower probability. Conclusion: Our results show that more than 6 decades after the end of the World War II, DNA analysis may significantly contribute to the identification of the remains from that period. Additional analysis of Y-STRs and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) markers will be performed in the second phase of the identification project.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-519
Number of pages7
JournalCroatian Medical Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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