Thanatomicrobiome Signatures in Drug Overdose Cases

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Brackett, Emily
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University Honors College, Middle Tennessee State University
Studies in forensic microbiology have been looking at the thanatomicrobiome as a new method for postmortem interval determination. The objective of this project is to investigate the thanatomicrobiome signatures of cadavers’ internal organs (spleen and liver) from overdose victims. Overdose drugs were extracted from liver samples of 10 different human cadavers using a basic extraction method and extracts were analyzed to determine identity/concentration of the overdose drug(s). The most common drug found was Methadone. Bacterial DNA was extracted from postmortem samples from other human cadavers of overdose victims and identity of the bacteria determined using next-generation sequencing. Results show that Clostridium spp. was the most abundant genus found in the postmortem tissues and confirms the Postmortem Clostridium Effect in these criminal overdose cases. This effect will be used in the future to make predictive models of bacterial community types related to postmortem microbial communities in internal organs.
overdose, Thanatomicrobiome, postmortem