Forensic Applications of Microbiomes

Microbiomes are the communities of microorganisms that live on or in people, plants, soil, oceans and the atmosphere. The study and understanding of microbiomes can aid in the development of useful applications in areas like health care, agriculture, energy, the environment, as well as forensic science.

National Microbiome Initiative

NIJ-funded microbiome research was highlighted by the White House in the announcement of the National Microbiome Initiative on May 13, 2016.

NIJ has been expanding our funding of research into the forensic applications of microbiomes since 2011. (See a list of funded projects). Our microbiome portfolio currently focuses on three areas:

  • The necrobiome — the community of organisms found on or around decomposing remains — as an indicator of time-since-death in the investigation of human remains.
  • The microbiome found in different soils as a means of linking a victim, suspect, or evidence to a particular outdoor environment.
  • The trace human microbiome — microbes on our skin and the surfaces and objects we interact with — as a potential means to supplement the use of human DNA for associating people with evidence and environments.

Learn about microbiomes. NIJ's Forensic Technology Center of Excellence is hosting a webinar series on microbial forensics. View a list of upcoming and recorded, on-demand webinars.

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Date Modified: May 25, 2016
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