Forensic samples can be considered a type of environmental sample and will routinely consist of many organisms. Those non-targeted organisms may hold significant value and may be used to provide probative information about the potential crime or event of interest.
For example, samples obtained from non-pristine surfaces will likely contain plant and microbial life. These organisms may have unique discriminatory powers and permit the identification of an individual or geospatial data that may help corroborate stories.
Further, these organisms can be used to establish a geolocation database which can help track items and organism of interest from their origin.
This research project focuses on optimizing a method for the phylogenetic differential separation of mixed samples. Specifically, the separation of bacterial, plant, and human cells in a mixed sample. This method will allow complex sequencing-based analysis to be interpreted more easily, and thereby maximizing the amount of genetic information that can be gleaned.
This project has successfully separated bacterial cells from human epithelial cells and work is ongoing to optimize a three-organism separation, which includes plant cells.
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