Postmortem changes in the human microbiome.
The human microbiome is the complete diversity of bacteria and other microorganisms that live in, on, and around the human body. We are currently exploring how the human microbiome changes upon the death of the human host. We have collected bacterial swabs from living and deceased human persons and are analyzing the respective bacterial diversity through next-generation metagenomic sequencing. The goal of this research is to discover changes in the bacterial populations that occur upon the death of the human host in a predictable pattern and schedule. Such a discovery could become a major tool in establishing time of death and other information of use in a death investigation.
In this project, we are developing DNA-based tools for the rapid detection and identification of plant species from trace biological evidence including pollen.