Discipline: Forensic Sciences
Zoe Hayes - Alabama State University
Co-Author(s): Gulnaz Javan, Alabama State University, Montgomery, ALSheree Finley, Alabama State University, Montgomery, AL
The microbiota gut-brain-axis is a bidirectional circuit that links the neural, endocrine, and immunological systems with gut microbial communities. The gut microbiome plays significant roles in human mind and behavior, specifically pain perception, learning capacity, memory, and temperament. Studies have shown that disruptions in the gut microbiota have been associated with substance use disorders. The interplay of gut microbiota in substance abuse disorders has not been elucidated; however, postmortem microbiome profiles may produce promising avenues for future forensic investigations. The goal of the current study was to determine gut microbiome composition in substance abuse disorder cases using transverse colon tissues of 21 overdose criminal cases versus 19 non-overdose-related cases. We hypothesized that postmortem samples of the same cause of death will reveal similar microbial taxonomic relationships. We compared the microbial diversity profiles using amplicon-based sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene V4 hypervariable region. The results demonstrated that the microbial abundance in male cases were found to have significantly more operational taxonomic units than females. Using weighted UniFrac analysis, the influence of substances in the overdose cases was found to be a significant factor in determining microbiome similarity. The results also revealed that samples of the same cause of death cluster together, showing a high degree of similarity between samples and a low degree of similarity among samples of different causes of death. In conclusion, our examination of vertebrate transverse colon microflora in decomposing remains extends emerging literature on postmortem microbial communities, which will ultimately contribute to advanced knowledge of vertebrate putrefaction.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): National Science Foundation HRD 2011764
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Gulnaz Javan, email@example.com
Role: In conducting this research I performed DNA extraction, Polymerase Chain Reaction, and Gel Electrophoresis.