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Forensic microbiology? UCSD gets USDOJ grant!

San Diego ByNight

University of California-San Diego will be exploring the use of microorganisms left behind at crime scenes as forensic evidence! As reported in the San Diego Union Tribune:

The U.S. Department of Justice has awarded the university a nearly $638,000 grant to study microbial cells, the billions of bacterial and fungal cells that cover the body and leave a “fingerprint” behind on objects that are touched, federal authorities announced last week.

The two-year research project is intended to find out how long a person’s microbial signature remains on an object, whether it matters what type of surface was touched, how much contact is required for a usable sample, whether repeated touches by the same person reinforce or obscure the microbial patterns, what happens when multiple people touch the same surface and how death might alter a person’s microbial signature.

Microbiological evidence may be used to provide leads or to corroborate DNA or fingerprint evidence.

The UCSD researchers are working alongside those from the University of Colorado, Argonne National Laboratory, Chaminade University of Honolulu, and the city and county of Honolulu’s Department of the Medical Examiner.

A 2010 study found that two people with almost identical DNA profiles can have completely different bacteria on their skins. Even if a criminal wipes his/her fingerprints from an object, the bacteria can be left behind.

-Bill at

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