DNA work on formalin fixed material

Torin Morgan Torin.S.Morgan at soc.soton.ac.uk
Wed Oct 20 05:30:40 EST 1999

Dear all,

France & Kocher (1996) worked on tissue that was formalin fixed but 
then stored in ethanol. Note that ethanol is a fixative used for DNA work 
and may have stabilised the DNA to some extent. The problem comes 
with material stored long-term in formalin (eg most polychaetes), but take 
heart from the work done recently by Savioz et al. (1997) in Acta 
Neuropathologica 93, 408-413: A method for the extraction of genomic 
DNA from human brain tissue fixed and stored in formalin for many 

It may be interesting to watch developments being made by pathologists 
looking into the genetic basis of diseases like cancer. They have recently 
been characterising very useful DNA markers like microsatellites from 
biopsied tissue that had been originally taken for histochemical analysis. 
Such tissue would have been formalin-fixed and then embedded in 
paraffin wax. A quick search through your favourite bibliographic 
database for "microsatellite" + "formalin" should yield the relevant articles 
for anyone interested.  

all the best,

Geoff wrote:
>A correspondent writes: "The main problem with using PCR determinations 
>on most polychaete material is that at least for recent such, it usually
>has been fixed in formaldehyde ... ." 
>OK, then how about this .... Technology marches on, I guess.
>France, S. C., & T. D. Kocher. 1996. DNA sequencing of formalin-fixed 
>crustaceans from archival research collections.— Molecular Marine 
>Biology and Biotechnology, 5(4):304-313.  

Dr Torin Morgan
School of Ocean and Earth Sciences
Southampton University
Southampton Oceanography Centre
European Way
Southampton SO14 3ZH

office tel: +44 (0)1703 596270
lab tel: +44 (0)1703 596502
mobile tel: 0976 924159
email: torin at soton.ac.uk

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