Transferability of Human and Environmental Microbiome on Clothes as a Tool for Forensic Investigations

Noemi Procopio, Giulia Sguazzi, Emma V. Eriksson, Nengi Ogbanga, Frazer C. McKell, Eleanor P. Newton, Paola A. Magni, Andrea Bonicelli, Sarah Gino*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Considering the growing importance of microbiome analyses in forensics for identifying individuals, this study explores the transfer of the skin microbiome onto clothing, its persistence on fabrics over time, and its transferability from the environment and between different garments. Furthermore, this project compares three specific QIAGEN microbiome extraction kits to test their extraction efficiency on fabric samples. Additionally, this study aims to check if these extracts contain human DNA, providing a chance to obtain more information from the same evidence for personal identification. The results obtained show: (1) variations in the skin microbiome between the volunteers, potentially due to their different sex; (2) differences in microbial composition between worn and unworn clothing; (3) the influence of the environment on the microbial signature of unworn clothing; (4) the potential use of certain phyla as biomarkers to differentiate between worn and unworn garments, even over extended periods; (5) a tendency towards extraction biases in the QIAampMP® DNA microbiome kit among the three tested ones; and (6) none of the extraction kits allow for the typing of human genetic profiles suitable for comparison. In conclusion, our study offers supplementary insights into the potential utility of time-transferred microbiome analysis on garments for forensic applications.
Original languageEnglish
Article number375
Number of pages17
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2024
Externally publishedYes

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