The genital microbiome and its potential for detecting sexual assault
Forensic Science International: Genetics
Genital microbiome, Sexual assault, Whole shotgun sequencing, Microbial signature
Since its inception, the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) has provided key discoveries that can be applied to forensics, in addition to those of obvious medical value. Whether for postmortem interval estimation, geolocation, or human identification, there are many applications of the microbiome as an investigative lead for forensic casework. The human skin microbiome has shown great potential for use in studies of transfer and human identification, however there has been little focus on the genital microbiome, in particular penile skin which differs from other body sites. Our preliminary data on both the penile and vaginal microbiome demonstrates potential value in cases of sexual assault. In this study we describe genital microbial signatures based on the analysis of five male and five female genital samples and compare these results to those from longitudinal studies. Selected taxa, e.g., Gardnerella, Lactobacilli, Finegoldia, Peptoniphilus , and Anaerococci, are shown to be candidate constituents of the genital microbiome that merit investigation for use in sexual assault casework.
Ghemrawi, Mirna; Andrea Ramírez Torres; George Duncan; Rita Colwell; Manoj Dadlani; and Bruce McCord. 2021. "The genital microbiome and its potential for detecting sexual assault." Forensic Science International: Genetics 51, (): 102432. doi:10.1016/j.fsigen.2020.102432.