The Identification of Ingested Dandelion Juice in Gastric Contents of a Deceased Person by Direct Sequencing and GC–MS Methods

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Abstract:

Abstract: 

DNA and chemical analysis of gastric contents of a deceased person were handled in this work. The body of the victim was discovered in his car, submerged in a lake. We were asked to determine whether or not the gastric contents of the victim harbored drugs and dandelion material. It was suspected that the victim had been murdered by poisoning with an excess amount of sleeping medication (doxylamine), which had been homogenized with dandelion. The concentrations of 11.4 and 27.5 mg/kg of doxylamine detected from spleen and liver of the victim were far higher than the assumed therapeutic concentration. Via gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS) analysis and direct sequencing analysis of plant genetic markers such as intergenic transcribed spacer, 18S ribosomal RNA (rRNA), rbcL and trnLF, it was confirmed that the gastric contents of the victim contained taraxasterol, which is one of the marker compounds for dandelion and contained dandelion species-specific rbcL and trnL-trnF IGS (trnLF) sequences. The initial PCR of the genomic DNA isolated from the gastric contents showed insufficient quantity, and the second PCR, of which the template was a portion of the initial PCR products, exhibited a sufficient quantity for direct sequencing. rbcL and trnLF located in the cpDNA resulted in the successful determination of dandelion DNA in a decedent’s stomach contents. GC–MS identifies the actual presence of a taraxasterol at 28.4 min. Raw dandelion was assumed to be used as a masking vehicle for excess sleeping drug (doxylamine).

Keywords: GC–MS; dandelion; doxylamine; forensic science; gastric contents; rbcL; taraxasterol; trnL-trnF IGS

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1556-4029.2009.01019.x

Affiliations: 1: DNA Analysis Sector, Western District Office of National Institute of Scientific Investigation, 111 Daeduk-Ri, Seosam-Myun, Jangsung-Gun, Chonnam 515-822, South Korea. 2: Drug & Toxicology Sector, Western District Office of National Institute of Scientific Investigation, 111 Daeduk-Ri, Seosam-Myun, Jangsung-Gun, Chonnam 515-822, South Korea. 3: Forensic Medicine Sector, Western District Office of National Institute of Scientific Investigation, 111 Daeduk-Ri, Seosam-Myun, Jangsung-Gun, Chonnam 515-822, South Korea. 4: DNA Analysis Sector, National Institute of Scientific Investigation, 331-1 Shinwol-7Dong, Yangchun-Ku, Seoul, 158-707, South Korea. 5: Department of Biological Sciences, Chonbuk National University, 664-14 Dukjin-Dong, Dukjin-Gu, Chonju City, Chonbuk, 561-756, South Korea.

Publication date: May 1, 2009

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