The microbiome has also become a burgeoning field of research in forensic science. With the particular collection of microbes we carry specific to each of us, the microbiome has been touted as another tool to shed light on whether someone was present in a particular location. It could also prove useful when it comes to determining when an individual died, since postmortem microbial composition changes over time, and for uncovering clandestine graves.
It’s early days, but researchers are looking at whether postmortem changes are consistent across different settings and environments: if they are, it could provide a handy “clock” that could complement existing measures of how long a body has been dead. Knight said such studies are turning up useful results, although he added that such tools were yet to be used as evidence in court.