Microbiome Data Accurately Predicts the Postmortem Interval Using Random Forest Regression Models

Aeriel BelkJessica L Metcalf


Death investigations often include an effort to establish the postmortem interval (PMI) in cases in which the time of death is uncertain. The postmortem interval can lead to the identification of the deceased and the validation of witness statements and suspect alibis. Recent research has demonstrated that microbes provide an accurate clock that starts at death and relies on ecological change in the microbial communities that normally inhabit a body and its surrounding environment. Here, we explore how to build the most robust Random Forest regression models for prediction of PMI by testing models built on different sample types (gravesoil, skin of the torso, skin of the head), gene markers (16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA), 18S rRNA, internal transcribed spacer regions (ITS)), and taxonomic levels (sequence variants, species, genus, etc.). We also tested whether particular suites of indicator microbes were informative across different datasets. Generally, results indicate that the most accurate models for predicting PMI were built using gravesoil and skin data using the 16S rRNA genetic marker at the taxonomic level of phyla. Additionally, several phyla consistently contributed highly to model accuracy and may be candidate indicators ...Continue Reading


Apr 25, 2006·International Journal of Legal Medicine·Jens AmendtEuropean Association for Forensic Entomology
Nov 9, 2006·Die Naturwissenschaften·David O CarterMark Tibbett
Apr 13, 2010·Nature Methods·J Gregory CaporasoRob Knight
Nov 3, 2010·FEMS Microbiology Reviews·Dan KnightsRob Knight
Nov 30, 2012·Nucleic Acids Research·Christian QuastFrank Oliver Glöckner
Oct 12, 2013·Molecular Ecology·Urmas KõljalgKarl-Henrik Larsson
Nov 23, 2013·PloS One·Jennifer L PechalM Eric Benbow
Mar 5, 2015·Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology·David O CarterRob Knight
May 31, 2015·International Journal of Legal Medicine·Sophie WeissRob Knight
Jun 23, 2015·Journal of Forensic Sciences·Kathleen A HautherJennifer M DeBruyn
Feb 9, 2016·Scientific Reports·Michael J McGeachieAugusto Litonjua
Jun 5, 2016·Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology·Burkhard Madea
Jul 6, 2016·Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology·Roger W Byard
Mar 23, 2017·Forensic Science International : Synergy·M Colby HunterPeter A Noble
Apr 4, 2017·Trends in Biotechnology·Jessica L MetcalfRob Knight
Jun 20, 2017·PeerJ·Jennifer M DeBruyn, Kathleen A Hauther
Aug 10, 2017·The Science of the Total Environment·Melline Fontes NoronhaValéria Maia de Oliveira
Nov 2, 2017·Nature·Luke R ThompsonEarth Microbiome Project Consortium


Nov 9, 2018·Journal of Forensic Sciences·Whitney A KodamaChristopher B Happy
Jul 9, 2020·PloS One·Alexandra L EmmonsJennifer M DeBruyn
Apr 21, 2020·Journal of Alzheimer's Disease : JAD·Susan WestfallGiulio Maria Pasinetti
Dec 7, 2018·Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology·Gulnaz T JavanDeEtta Mills
Oct 25, 2020·FEMS Microbiology Reviews·Edouard Jurkevitch, Zohar Pasternak
Jan 2, 2021·Forensic Science International : Synergy·John M Butler, Sheila Willis

Related Concepts

Biological Markers
Cessation of Life
Postmortem Changes
Regression Analysis
Ribosomal RNA
RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
Genes, rRNA

Trending Feeds


Coronaviruses encompass a large family of viruses that cause the common cold as well as more serious diseases, such as the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19; formally known as 2019-nCoV). Coronaviruses can spread from animals to humans; symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties; in more severe cases, infection can lead to death. This feed covers recent research on COVID-19.

Synthetic Genetic Array Analysis

Synthetic genetic arrays allow the systematic examination of genetic interactions. Here is the latest research focusing on synthetic genetic arrays and their analyses.

Congenital Hyperinsulinism

Congenital hyperinsulinism is caused by genetic mutations resulting in excess insulin secretion from beta cells of the pancreas. Here is the latest research.

Neural Activity: Imaging

Imaging of neural activity in vivo has developed rapidly recently with the advancement of fluorescence microscopy, including new applications using miniaturized microscopes (miniscopes). This feed follows the progress in this growing field.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a disease characterized by unexplained disabling fatigue; the pathology of which is incompletely understood. Discover the latest research on chronic fatigue syndrome here.

Epigenetic Memory

Epigenetic memory refers to the heritable genetic changes that are not explained by the DNA sequence. Find the latest research on epigenetic memory here.

Cell Atlas of the Human Eye

Constructing a cell atlas of the human eye will require transcriptomic and histologic analysis over the lifespan. This understanding will aid in the study of development and disease. Find the latest research pertaining to the Cell Atlas of the Human Eye here.

Femoral Neoplasms

Femoral Neoplasms are bone tumors that arise in the femur. Discover the latest research on femoral neoplasms here.

STING Receptor Agonists

Stimulator of IFN genes (STING) are a group of transmembrane proteins that are involved in the induction of type I interferon that is important in the innate immune response. The stimulation of STING has been an active area of research in the treatment of cancer and infectious diseases. Here is the latest research on STING receptor agonists.