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Carcass Mass Has Little Influence on the Structure of Gravesoil Microbial Communities

NCJ Number
International Journal of Legal Medicine Volume: 130 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2016 Pages: 253-263
Date Published
January 2016
11 pages
Since little is known about how variables, such as carcass mass, affect the succession pattern of microbes in soils during decomposition, this study examined the effects of carcass mass on the soil microbial community by sampling soils associated with swine (Sus scrofa domesticus) carcasses of four different masses until the 15th day of decomposition during the month of June in a pasture near Lincoln, Nebraska.

Soils underneath swine of 1, 20, 40, and 50 kg masses were investigated in triplicate, as well as control sites not associated with a carcass. Soil microbial communities were characterized by sequencing the archaeal, bacterial (16S), and eukaryotic (18S) rRNA genes in soil samples. The researchers concluded that time of decomposition was a significant influence on the microbial community, but carcass mass was not. The grave soil associated with 1 kg mass carcasses differed most compared to the grave soil associated with other carcass masses. The study also identified the 15 most abundant bacterial and eukaryotic taxa, and discusses changes in their abundance as carcass decomposition progressed. Finally, the study showed significant decreases in alpha diversity for carcasses of differing mass in pre-carcass rupture (days 0, 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 postmortem) versus post-carcass rupture (days 9 and 15 postmortem) microbial communities. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2016