The sensational result of a DNA test of stamps used by Ingmar Bergman that supported speculations that he was not the biological son of his mother Karin Bergman, was incorrect.
The DNA samples were in fact contaminated by DNA from a laboratory technician.
In May this year the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter reported that world famous director Ingmar Bergman was probably not the biological son of his mother Karin Bergman, with whom he grew up and had a close relation to.
The proof for this was a DNA test made by the Swedish National Board of Forensic Medicine, NBFM, in Linköping in the south of Sweden.
They tested DNA from two stamps that Ingmar Bergman supposedly had licked and put on his envelopes.
Now, the Swedish newspaper Ny Teknik can reveal that the test was faulty.
In fact, DNA from the technician had contaminated the extractions at the NBFM lab.
The stamps were handed over to NBFM for analysis by Veronica Ralston, niece of Ingmar Bergman.
In 2010, three years after his death, a book that claimed his mother was not his biological mother was published in Sweden.
This was news for Veronica Ralston who decided to pay the NBFM for a DNA analysis.
The test was first said to be based on mitochondrial DNA from two stamps.
A comparison with mitochondrial DNA from Veronica Ralston then showed that she and Bergman could not be related on the matrilineal side.
She also wrote her own book “The Love child and the Changeling” where she promotes the hypothesis that Ingmar Bergman’s mother Karin gave birth to a deadly sick baby and that it was switched to an other baby.
“Ny Teknik” later found out and told readers that the DNA profile actually was extracted from one stamp, from 1951, since the other stamp had not given any result.
In the early summer of 2011 Veronica Ralston, in cooperation with Ny Teknik, asked the NBFM to analyze additional stamps and also envelopes sent by the director, in order to bring clarity to the claims.
This was done, and two more DNA tests showed exactly the same DNA profile as the first analyzed stamp. The profile was called B as in Bergman. The other one from Veronica Ralston was called A.
In order to be absolutely sure, the NBFM was asked to doublecheck the results and compare them with DNA from stamps sent by the mother of Ingmar Bergman.
The following result showed this sample had been contaminated with DNA from Veronica Ralston.
Ny Teknik then asked the laboratory to check all their DNA findings and compare them with DNA profiles of the lab staff..
Last Friday NBFM came to the conclusion that the B profile, a rare one, actually belongs to one of their own technicians.
How the technician might have contaminated the samples with her own mitochondrial DNA is not known, but the NBFM is now to start a technical investigation.
Now there is nothing scientifically that contradicts that Karin Bergman is the mother of Ingmar Bergman. But his DNA profile still remains a mystery.
Would it not be extremely unlikely then that Ingmar Bergman has the same DNA profile as the technician?
—Not extremely, but unlikely, says the forensic genetics expert Gunilla Holmlund, at the NBFM.
The story about Ingmar Bergman in the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter:
For further information, please contact:
Norbert Andersson, editor in chief Ny Teknik
+ 46 708 13 78 05