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Creating a 3D microbial and chemical snapshot of a human habitat

NCJ Number
Date Published
12 pages
This article presents research that sought to determine how forensics can be used to highlight human-environmental interactions.
One of the goals of forensic science is to identify individuals and their lifestyle by analyzing the trace signatures left behind in built environments. In this effort, microbiome and metabolomic methods are used to see how occupants used an office and to also gain insights into lifestyle characteristics such as diet, medications, and personal care products of the occupants. 3D molecular cartography, a molecular visualization technology, was used in combination with mass spectrometry and microbial inventories to highlight human-environmental interactions. Molecular signatures were correlated with the individuals as well as their interactions with this indoor environment. There are person-specific chemical and microbial signatures associated with this environment that directly relate who had touched objects such as computers, computer mice, cell phones, desk phone, table or desks. By combining molecular and microbial investigation forensic strategies, this study offers novel insights to investigators who value the reconstructing of human lifestyle and characterization of human environmental interaction.

Date Published: January 1, 2018