Soil fungal community shift evaluation as a potential cadaver decomposition indicator

Monica Chimutsa, Ayodeji Olakanye, Timothy Thompson, Theresia Ralebitso-Senior

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    Fungi metabolise organic matter in situ and so alter both the bio-/physico-chemical properties and microbial community structure of the ecosystem. In particular, they are responsible reportedly for specific stages of decomposition. Therefore, this study aimed to extend previous bacteria-based forensic ecogenomics research by investigating soil fungal community and cadaver decomposition interactions in microcosms with garden soil (20 kg, fresh weight) and domestic pig (Sus scrofa domesticus) carcass (5 kg, leg). Soil samples were collected at depths of 0–10 cm, 10–20 cm and 20–30 cm on days 3, 28 and 77 in the absence (control −Pg) and presence (experimental +Pg) of Sus scrofa domesticus and used for total DNA extraction and nested polymerase chain reaction and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (PCR–DGGE) profiling of the 18S rRNA gene. The Shannon–Wiener (H′) community diversity indices were 1.25 ± 0.21 and 1.49 ± 0.30 for the control and experimental microcosms, respectively, while comparable Simpson species dominance (S) values were 0.65 ± 0.109 and 0.75 ± 0.015. Generally, and in contrast to parallel studies of the bacterial 16S rRNA and 16S rDNA profiles, statistical analysis (t-test) of the 18S dynamics showed no mathematically significant shifts in fungal community diversity (H′; p = 0.142) and dominance (S; p = 0.392) during carcass decomposition, necessitating further investigations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)155-159
    Number of pages5
    JournalForensic Science International
    Early online date17 Aug 2015
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Aug 2015


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