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Microbial Community Succession in Human and Pig Decomposition

Award Information

Award #
2016-DN-BX-0010
Location
Awardee County
Broome
Congressional District
Status
Open
Funding First Awarded
2016
Total funding (to date)
$135,000

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $50,000)

As submitted by the proposer: Decomposition is a dynamic environment populated by a complex network of communities including: mammalian; insect; and microbial species that inhabit the death environment and prey upon the remains and each other. This project will develop a greater understanding of decomposition through studying the relationship between the decomposing organism and the microorganism communities that populate it and its immediate environment. Using the remains of pigs and donated humans, this project will focus on identifying microbial communities and tracking community profile changes. Skin and rectal swabs from the research subjects and soil samples taken from underneath the remains will be analyzed with Illumina Next-Gen Sequencing using the 16S rRNA gene, specific to bacteria, to identify microbial communities. In addition to better understanding this novel microbial ecology, the project will directly compare pig decomposition to that of humans to determine if pigs, a common human research substitute, are a reasonable proxy for microbial research. Ultimately, a chronological timeframe of community presence, interaction, and succession will be developed. This has direct implications for the death investigation community, as a better understanding of the microorganism communities proliferation and succession, could lead to more accurate time since death estimates in the advanced stages of decomposition.

Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law.
ca/ncf

As submitted by the proposer: Decomposition is a dynamic environment populated by a complex network of communities including: mammalian; insect; and microbial species that inhabit the death environment and prey upon the remains and each other.

This project will develop a greater understanding of decomposition through studying the relationship between the decomposing organism and the microorganism communities that populate it and its immediate environment. Using the remains of pigs and donated humans, this project will focus on identifying microbial communities and tracking community profile changes. Skin and rectal swabs from the research subjects and soil samples taken from underneath the remains will be analyzed with Illumina Next-Gen Sequencing using the 16S rRNA gene, specific to bacteria, to identify microbial communities.

In addition to better understanding this novel microbial ecology, the project will directly compare pig decomposition to that of humans to determine if pigs, a common human research substitute, are a reasonable proxy for microbial research.

Ultimately, a chronological timeframe of community presence, interaction, and succession will be developed. This has direct implications for the death investigation community, as a better understanding of the microorganism communities proliferation and succession, could lead to more accurate time since death estimates in the advanced stages of decomposition.

This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in the applicable law, and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements – 2 CFR 200.210(a) (14). nca/ncf

Microbes thrive on the material resulting from the decomposition of the human body. The variation of the types and maturity of the microbes found in human remains and the soil in proximity to human remains have promise as a means of determining the time of death. The applicant proposes a study to better characterize the microbial communities populating human remains and their surrounding environment.
The applicant also proposes to study how such communities may or may not differ between human remains and pig carcasses to inform their use as analogs for human cadavers in science.
"Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law," and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14).
NCA/NCF

Date Created: July 17, 2016