A microbial clock provides an accurate estimate of the postmortem interval in a mouse model system

Jessica L Metcalf, Laura Wegener Parfrey, Antonio Gonzalez, Christian L Lauber, Dan Knights, Gail Ackermann, Gregory C Humphrey, Matthew J Gebert, Will Van Treuren, Donna Berg-Lyons, Kyle Keepers, Yan Guo (+4 others)
2013 eLife  
Establishing the time since death is critical in every death investigation, yet existing techniques are susceptible to a range of errors and biases. For example, forensic entomology is widely used to assess the postmortem interval (PMI), but errors can range from days to months. Microbes may provide a novel method for estimating PMI that avoids many of these limitations. Here we show that postmortem microbial community changes are dramatic, measurable, and repeatable in a mouse model system,
more » ... owing PMI to be estimated within approximately 3 days over 48 days. Our results provide a detailed understanding of bacterial and microbial eukaryotic ecology within a decomposing corpse system and suggest that microbial community data can be developed into a forensic tool for estimating PMI.
doi:10.7554/elife.01104 pmid:24137541 pmcid:PMC3796315 fatcat:ixzi4fijvrb2xpsntvkg2ob7s4