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Microbial Evidence

Hair is one of the most common trace evidence gathered at crime scenes, note researchers led by Murdoch University's Michael Bunce in their Investigative Genetics paper. But if the hairs don't include the roots, they usually don't contain enough DNA for STR analysis.

Instead, Bunce and his colleagues examined whether the microbes living on hairs could be identified through metagenomic approaches and used to generate a unique microbial profile for the individual from whom they came.

They surveyed the bacterial communities of scalp and pubic hairs obtained from seven adults, including one co-habitating couple, at three different points in time. As the researchers report in their paper, they found that scalp hairs harbor about 50 to 55 different types of microbes while pubic hairs have some 73 to 76 types of microbes. Additionally, they noted that communities were personalized and consistent over time.

There was one instance in which the researchers noted that two individuals had more similar pubic hair microbial profiles at one time point as compared to the earlier collection times — these samples had been collected from the romantic couple a day after they'd had sex.

"This surprising result indicated that humans swap external microbes during intercourse, suggesting that the microbiome could be useful in forensic analysis on sexual assault cases," Discover's D-brief blog adds.

The Scan

Support for Moderna Booster

An FDA advisory committee supports authorizing a booster for Moderna's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, CNN reports.

Testing at UK Lab Suspended

SARS-CoV-2 testing at a UK lab has been suspended following a number of false negative results.

J&J CSO to Step Down

The Wall Street Journal reports that Paul Stoffels will be stepping down as chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson by the end of the year.

Science Papers Present Proteo-Genomic Map of Human Health, Brain Tumor Target, Tool to Infer CNVs

In Science this week: gene-protein-disease map, epigenomic and transcriptomic approach highlights potential therapeutic target for gliomas, and more