Research Topic

Life and Death: New Perspectives and Applications in Forensic Science

About this Research Topic

This Research Topic examines relevant studies that characterize the structure and function of necrobiome communities associated with the postmortem decomposition of vertebrate carrion. Throughout life, mammalian hosts and their microbiomes coevolve in a process of reciprocal adaptation. Changes in decomposition and postmortem perturbations may influence differentially dispersed populations of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes, resulting in dynamic changes or succession of postmortem microbial communities that also mediate how other scavengers detect and use the resource. Although there are a number of factors that affect this process, there is abundant evidence that understanding these communities can provide data of forensic importance. Both the basic understanding and value of using postmortem necrobiome and thanatomicrobiome communities in forensics will be the focus of this topic.

This collection will bring fresh and innovative science for solving death investigations, using cutting-edge technologies concerning the community of organisms that detect and use carcasses in ways that can be studied to inform forensic investigations. Forensic investigators are in need of modern tools to assist in constructing postmortem timelines, trace evidence relationships among subjects, and the circumstances of death or body relocation. The postmortem microbiome has potential to provide new and exciting tools for answering such questions of forensic importance. Data of both invertebrate and microbe colonization and change can help with estimates of the very important postmortem interval (PMI), i.e., the time elapsed since death. Current studies demonstrate the feasibility of using postmortem metrics of invertebrates, vertebrates, microbes, and their molecules as forensic tools, ranging from PMI estimates to trace evidence biomarkers. In this Research Topic, we want to investigate how the microbial, soil, scavengers, and mRNA transcript census in and/or around the vertebrate body changes postmortem as a function of time and temperature.

We invite submissions that cover a wide range of topics related to the community of organisms that use vertebrate carcasses during their life history, including microbes, invertebrates, and vertebrates. Researchers may contribute Reviews/Mini Reviews, Original Research or Methods articles on the following (but not limited to) topics:

• Collective abiotic and biotic components responsible for the decomposition of heterotrophic biomass, particularly
of vertebrate carcasses
• Using aquatic and terrestrial invertebrate and microbial communities to estimate the postmortem submersion
intervals or body relocation events
• The microbiome of internal (thanatomicrobiome) or external (epinecrotic) body sites of vertebrate carcasses or
soil communities
• The molecular underpinnings of postmortem microbiomes and how they change
• Tests of basic ecological and biological theory that drive community assembly of species involved in decomposing
heterotrophic biomass
• How vertebrate scavenger activity affects necrobiome community assembly and its effects on using such data for
forensic relevance
• Determining and validating postmortem biomarkers for use in trace evidence, postmortem interval estimates, and
other forensic uses
• Capillary Electrophoresis Single-Strand Conformational Polymorphism (CE-SSCP) to resolve human forensic
mixtures
• Recovery of forensic DNA samples from residential surfaces


Keywords: microbial ecology, next-generation sequencing, vertebrate decomposition, entomology, necrobiome, forensic science


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

This Research Topic examines relevant studies that characterize the structure and function of necrobiome communities associated with the postmortem decomposition of vertebrate carrion. Throughout life, mammalian hosts and their microbiomes coevolve in a process of reciprocal adaptation. Changes in decomposition and postmortem perturbations may influence differentially dispersed populations of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes, resulting in dynamic changes or succession of postmortem microbial communities that also mediate how other scavengers detect and use the resource. Although there are a number of factors that affect this process, there is abundant evidence that understanding these communities can provide data of forensic importance. Both the basic understanding and value of using postmortem necrobiome and thanatomicrobiome communities in forensics will be the focus of this topic.

This collection will bring fresh and innovative science for solving death investigations, using cutting-edge technologies concerning the community of organisms that detect and use carcasses in ways that can be studied to inform forensic investigations. Forensic investigators are in need of modern tools to assist in constructing postmortem timelines, trace evidence relationships among subjects, and the circumstances of death or body relocation. The postmortem microbiome has potential to provide new and exciting tools for answering such questions of forensic importance. Data of both invertebrate and microbe colonization and change can help with estimates of the very important postmortem interval (PMI), i.e., the time elapsed since death. Current studies demonstrate the feasibility of using postmortem metrics of invertebrates, vertebrates, microbes, and their molecules as forensic tools, ranging from PMI estimates to trace evidence biomarkers. In this Research Topic, we want to investigate how the microbial, soil, scavengers, and mRNA transcript census in and/or around the vertebrate body changes postmortem as a function of time and temperature.

We invite submissions that cover a wide range of topics related to the community of organisms that use vertebrate carcasses during their life history, including microbes, invertebrates, and vertebrates. Researchers may contribute Reviews/Mini Reviews, Original Research or Methods articles on the following (but not limited to) topics:

• Collective abiotic and biotic components responsible for the decomposition of heterotrophic biomass, particularly
of vertebrate carcasses
• Using aquatic and terrestrial invertebrate and microbial communities to estimate the postmortem submersion
intervals or body relocation events
• The microbiome of internal (thanatomicrobiome) or external (epinecrotic) body sites of vertebrate carcasses or
soil communities
• The molecular underpinnings of postmortem microbiomes and how they change
• Tests of basic ecological and biological theory that drive community assembly of species involved in decomposing
heterotrophic biomass
• How vertebrate scavenger activity affects necrobiome community assembly and its effects on using such data for
forensic relevance
• Determining and validating postmortem biomarkers for use in trace evidence, postmortem interval estimates, and
other forensic uses
• Capillary Electrophoresis Single-Strand Conformational Polymorphism (CE-SSCP) to resolve human forensic
mixtures
• Recovery of forensic DNA samples from residential surfaces


Keywords: microbial ecology, next-generation sequencing, vertebrate decomposition, entomology, necrobiome, forensic science


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

10 November 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

10 November 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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