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An Interdisciplinary Review of the Thanatomicrobiome in Human Decomposition

NCJ Number
Date Published
9 pages
Since understanding the mechanisms of microbial assembly during decomposition requires a multi-organ and multidisciplinary examination of various strategies utilized by the trillions of microbes that colonize decaying tissues, this article highlights interdisciplinary research and provides an overview of human decomposition investigations of thanatomicrobiomic changes in internal organs.
Death does not occur instantaneously and organs do not decompose at the same rate or in the same way. Nulligravid human uteri and prostate glands are the last internal organs to deteriorate during decomposition; however, the reason for this important observation is still enigmatic. Recent studies have elucidated that the composition and abundance of microbes in the human thanatomicrobiome (microbiome of death) varies by organ and changes as a function of time and temperature. The ileocecal area has the largest absolute postmortem burden that spreads to the liver and spleen and continues to the heart and brain depending on the cause of death. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019