Integrating the human microbiome in the forensic toolkit: Current bottlenecks and future solutions

Celia Díez López*, Athina Vidaki, Manfred Kayser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
161 Downloads (Pure)


Over the last few years, advances in massively parallel sequencing technologies (also referred to next generation sequencing) and bioinformatics analysis tools have boosted our knowledge on the human microbiome. Such insights have brought new perspectives and possibilities to apply human microbiome analysis in many areas, particularly in medicine. In the forensic field, the use of microbial DNA obtained from human materials is still in its infancy but has been suggested as a potential alternative in situations when other human (non-microbial) approaches present limitations. More specifically, DNA analysis of a wide variety of microorganisms that live in and on the human body offers promises to answer various forensically relevant questions, such as post-mortem interval estimation, individual identification, and tissue/body fluid identification, among others. However, human microbiome analysis currently faces significant challenges that need to be considered and overcome via future forensically oriented human microbiome research to provide the necessary solutions. In this perspective article, we discuss the most relevant biological, technical and data-related issues and propose future solutions that will pave the way towards the integration of human microbiome analysis in the forensic toolkit.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102627
JournalForensic Science International: Genetics
Early online date1 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank their colleagues from the forensic and non-forensic human microbiome communities for their previously published work and the datasets they made publicly available that led to the current achievements discussed here. The authors’ work is supported by Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors


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