by blogger CS
Scientists are using the unique genetic sequence inherent to microbes, they can tell the difference between related strains of bacteria. It is claimed to be as remarkable as human DNA, even being able to identify the culprits of food poisoning. The techniques utilized are much like the same techniques used by the CDC to identify a disease. This research stemmed from the anthrax attacks from years passed. Investigators were able to link some of the biological attacks to an individual based on the genetic fingerprint of parent spores found in a flask. They claim to be able to trace a single vial of "germs." Speaking realistically, it seems as though this is better in thought than in practice. Perhaps this form of genetic fingerprinting will become more useful than any other practice currently being used in forensics, but for now it's still too soon to tell.
|Microbial forensics is "still a field very much in its infancy," said prominent gene researcher Dr. Claire Fraser-Liggett...Unlike in 2001, today the genetic makeup of many bacteria and viruses has been fully sequenced, or decoded...So Fraser-Liggett urges development of a database of multiple samples of pathogens collected from around the world, so the next such investigation won't have to start from scratch...But legally, microbial forensics raises enough issues that in 2004, the FBI created an elite committee of specialists in genetics and law enforcement to develop the first guidelines on how to handle and preserve bacteria or viruses that may be part of a crime.|
This would be incredible, but a lot of convincing in the science world needs to be done. If this becomes a tried and true practice, we can just add it to our ever expanding forensic tool belt.