Future Trends in Postmortem Microbiota

Collecting Microbiota

Illustration of different body sites for thanatomicrobiome sampling from existing studies. Boxes indicate the dominant phyla in the microbial communities in that respective organ/body part.

News Release, International Society of Microbiota – March 15, 2022.

Forensic medicine has, for a long time, been relying on biochemical, anthropologic, and histopathologic evidences in solving various investigations. However, depending on the method used, lengthy sample processing time, scanty sample, and less sensitivity and accuracy pervade these procedures.

Accordingly, newer arenas such as the thanatomicrobiome have come forward to aid in its quandaries; furthermore, the parallel advances in genomic and proteomic techniques have complemented and are still emerging to be used in forensic experiments and investigations.

Postmortem interval (PMI) is one of the most important aspects of medico-legal investigations. The current trend in PMI estimation is toward genomic analyses of autopsy samples. Similarly, determination of cause of death, although a domain of medical sciences, is being targeted as the next level of forensic casework.

With the current trend in laboratory sciences moving to the discovery of newer disease-specific markers for diagnostic and prognostic purposes, the same is being explored for the determination of the cause of death by using techniques such as Real-Time PCR, DNA micro-array, to Next-Gen Sequencing.

Establishing an individual’s biological profile has been done using medicolegal methods and anthropology as well as bar-bodies/Davidson bodies (gender determination); and in cases where the determination of age/gender is a challenge using morphological characteristics; the recent advances in the field of genomics and proteomics have played a significant role, e.g., use of mitochondrial DNA in age estimation and in maternity disputes.

The major hurdle forensic medical research faces is the fact that most of the studies are conducted in animal models, which are often difficult to mimic in human and real-time scenarios. Additionally, the high accuracy required in criminal investigations to be used in a court of law as evidence has prevented these results to come out of the labs and be used to the optimum.

An interesting paper aims at giving a comprehensive and critical account of the various molecular biology techniques including “thanatogenomics,” currently being utilized in the veritable fields of forensic medicine.

You can expand your knowledge on similar microbiota fields through the Targeting Microbiota 2022 Congress.

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Media contact:
International Society of Microbiota

Targeting Microbiota 2022 Congress
October 19-21, 2022 - Paris, France

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