Seasonal variation of postmortem microbial communities

Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology
David O CarterRob Knight


Body-associated microbes were recently shown to change significantly during decomposition, undergoing an ecological succession in experimental conditions using rodent and swine models. We investigated microbial succession in soils associated with swine carcasses under experimental field conditions in summer and winter. We demonstrate that these postmortem microbial communities change in a specific, reproducible fashion, and that soil microbes represent a significant component of the postmortem microbial community, contrary to widespread belief in forensic science. However, the effects of decomposition on soil microbial communities were different in summer and winter. We suggest that the microbial ecological succession will be useful in medicolegal death investigation; however, observations in winter might not be applicable to summer, which indicates a need for a greater understanding of the seasonality of decomposition.


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Related Concepts

Livor Mortis
Seasonal Variation
Soil Microbiology
Family suidae
Forensic Pathology Discipline
Forensic Medicine
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