Send to

Choose Destination
Int J Legal Med. 2016 Jan;130(1):253-63. doi: 10.1007/s00414-015-1206-2. Epub 2015 May 30.

Carcass mass has little influence on the structure of gravesoil microbial communities.

Author information

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO, 80309, USA.
Laboratory of Forensic Taphonomy, Forensic Sciences Unit, Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Chaminade University of Honolulu, Honolulu, HI, 96816, USA.
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO, 80309, USA.
Department of Pediatrics and Computer Science & Engineering, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, MC 0763, La Jolla, CA, 92093, USA.


Little is known about how variables, such as carcass mass, affect the succession pattern of microbes in soils during decomposition. To investigate the effects of carcass mass on the soil microbial community, soils associated with swine (Sus scrofa domesticus) carcasses of four different masses were sampled until the 15th day of decomposition during the month of June in a pasture near Lincoln, Nebraska. Soils underneath swine of 1, 20, 40, and 50 kg masses were investigated in triplicate, as well as control sites not associated with a carcass. Soil microbial communities were characterized by sequencing the archaeal, bacterial (16S), and eukaryotic (18S) rRNA genes in soil samples. We conclude that time of decomposition was a significant influence on the microbial community, but carcass mass was not. The gravesoil associated with 1 kg mass carcasses differs most compared to the gravesoil associated with other carcass masses. We also identify the 15 most abundant bacterial and eukaryotic taxa, and discuss changes in their abundance as carcass decomposition progressed. Finally, we show significant decreases in alpha diversity for carcasses of differing mass in pre-carcass rupture (days 0, 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 postmortem) versus post-carcass rupture (days 9 and 15 postmortem) microbial communities.


Bacteria; Decomposition; Nematode; Pathology; Postmortem microbiology

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer
Loading ...
Support Center