U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

DNA recovery after sequential processing of latent fingerprints on copy paper

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: Online Dated: September 2021
Date Published
September 2021
13 pages

This study investigated the effects of single-reagent and sequential latent fingerprint development processes on downstream DNA analysis to determine the point at which latent fingerprint development should be stopped to allow for DNA recovery.


Forensic examiners must determine whether both latent fingerprint development and DNA profiling can be performed on the same area of an evidence item and, if only one is possible, which examination offers the best chance for identification. Latent fingerprints can be enhanced by targeting different components of fingerprint residues with sequential chemical treatments. In the current study, latent fingerprints deposited on copy paper by one donor were developed using three sequential processes: 1,8-diazafluoren-9-one (DFO) → ninhydrin → physical developer (PD); 1,2-indanedione-zinc (IND-Zn) → ninhydrin → PD; and IND-Zn → ninhydrin → Oil Red O (ORO) → PD. Samples were examined after the addition of each chemical treatment. DNA was collected with cotton swabs, extracted, quantified, and amplified. DNA yields, peak heights, number of alleles obtained, and percentage of DNA profiles eligible for CODIS upload were examined. DNA profiles were obtained with varying degrees of success, depending on the number and type of treatments used for latent fingerprint development. The treatments that were found to be the least harmful to downstream DNA analysis were IND-Zn and IND-Zn/laser, and the most detrimental treatments were DFO, DFO/laser, and PD. In general, as the number of treatments increase, the opportunities for DNA loss or damage also increase, and it is preferable to use fewer treatments when developing latent fingerprints prior to downstream DNA processing. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: September 1, 2021