Microbes in fingerprints: A source for dating crime evidence?

Josep De Alcaraz-Fossoul, Yue Wang, Ruoqian Liu, Michelle Mancenido, Pamela Ann Marshall, Celeste Núñez, Jennifer Broatch, Lara Ferry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Interest in the human microbiome has grown in recent years because of increasing applications to biomedicine and forensic science. However, the potential for dating evidence at a crime scene based upon time-dependent changes in microbial signatures has not been established, despite a relatively straightforward scientific process for isolating the microbiome. We hypothesize that modifications in microbial diversity, abundance, and succession can provide estimates of the time a surface was touched for investigative purposes. In this proof-of-concept research, the sequencing and analysis of the 16 S rRNA gene from microbes present in fresh and aged latent fingerprints deposited by three donors with pre- and post-washed hands is reported. The stability of major microbial phyla is confirmed while the dynamics of less abundant groups is described up to 21 days post-deposition. Most importantly, a phylum is suggested as the source for possible biological markers to date fingerprints: Deinococcus-Thermus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102883
JournalForensic Science International: Genetics
StatePublished - Jul 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Dating
  • Fingermark
  • Fingerprint
  • Microbiome
  • Time since deposition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Genetics


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