Microbiome of bone marrow for postmortem interval


When determining time since death estimations are limited in their accuracy by a number of external factors such as the decomposition of soft tissues, presence of scavengers, and environmental influences. Therefore current research focuses on means to increase this accuracy. By taking advantage of the longevity of bones as well as their nutrient rich inner matrix it may be possible to limit some of these factors such as the rapid decomposition time and contaminants introduced by scavengers, the burial environment, and the weather. Over the course of 202 days from summer to winter 2016, the bone marrow of three cadavers was sampled at the Southeast Texas Forensic Science Facility in Huntsville, Texas. Samples were sent out for PCR amplification and sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene in order to identify members of the bacterial community at the time of sampling. While preliminary, our data demonstrate that there are consistent shifts in the microbial taxa over time within and among cadavers. Actinobacteria and Firmicute genera decreased over time while Proteobacteria increased both in abundance and class diversity. Bacteroidetes genera also increased over time. Taken together, these data suggest that the microbial composition of bone marrow may be a potential aid for estimating PMI with increased accuracy.



Postmortem interval, Forensic science, Metagenomics, Sam Houston State University, Graduate school, Texas