Discipline: Science and Mathematics Education
Marquis Nelson - Alabama State University
Co-Author(s): Gulnaz Javan, Alabama State University, Montgomery, AL; Komal Vig, Alabama State University, Montgomery, AL; Sheree Finley, Alabama State University, Montgomery, AL
Death does not happen instantly, and human organs decompose at different rates or in different ways. For example, human prostate glands and uteri are the last internal organs to deteriorate during putrefaction. However, the reason for this very important phenomenon has not been elucidated. To truly understand the mechanisms of the natural calendar of death and the thanatomicrobiome, a thorough examination of different strategies utilized by the trillions of microbes that colonize decaying tissues is needed from a multi-organ and multidisciplinary approach. In the current study, we hypothesize that the thanatomicrobiome is relevant to the determination of postmortem interval due to the abundance of certain microorganisms in reproductive organ samples that are potentially indicative of the elapsed time since death. To test this hypothesis, 20 prostate and 20 uterus samples were collected from Italian cadavers in Pavia, Italy. PCR, gel electrophoresis, and high-throughput DNA sequencing were performed on the Illumina MiSeq platform that focused on the V4 region of 16S rRNA genes using a universal primer set 515F-806R. A standard bioinformatics pipeline was used to identify the most predominant bacteria in the tissues. The results of the relative abundances of bacterial families demonstrated that bacteria from the Clostridia family were the most abundant microbes. These results confirmed that putrefaction was influenced by the Postmortem Clostridium Effect in reproductive tissues at various times of death. The findings also showed that the V4 region had a higher prevalence (over 50%) of the class Clostridia in prostate compared to uterus. Future research questions will determine which types of bacterial species are associated with specific organ decay.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): US DOE MSEIP
Faculty Advisor: Sheree Finley, email@example.com
Role: In conducting this research, I performed i) DNA extraction, ii) polymerase chain reaction, and iii) agarose gel electrophoresis.