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Seasonal Variation of Postmortem Microbial Communities

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2015
6 pages
This study investigated microbial succession in soils associated with swine carcasses under experimental field conditions in summer and winter.
Body-associated microbes were recently shown to change significantly during decomposition, undergoing an ecological succession in experimental conditions using rodent and swine models. The current study demonstrated that these postmortem microbial communities change in a specific, reproducible fashion, and that soil microbes represent a significant component of the postmortem microbial community, contrary to widespread belief in forensic science; however, the effects of decomposition on soil microbial communities were different in summer and winter. The authors advise that the microbial ecological succession will be useful in medicolegal death investigations; however, observations in winter might not be applicable to summer, which indicates a need for a greater understanding of the seasonality of decomposition. (Publisher abstract modified)
Date Published: June 1, 2015