There is a personal bacteria “cloud” that surrounds our body and reveals our identity. It is emitted from the body into the surrounding air and leaves a unique, almost fingerprint-like trail, that can accurately identify the individual to which it belongs. This was revealed by a study published in the journal of the University of Oregon PeerJ.
An identikit in 4 hours
Every day millions of bacteria are ‘spit’ out in the air that surrounds us from the microbiome, the set of all the micro-organisms present in the human body. This ‘cloud’ has a personal stamp that clearly connects to the person it belongs to. A conclusion which the researchers team, led by James Meadow, came to after sequencing micro-organisms released into the air by 11 different people in a sterile room. In this way they were able to observe that most of those who were sitting alone could be identified within 4 hours thanks to the particular combination of bacteria present in the surrounding air. Several groups of bacteria, such as streptococcus, the propionibacterium and corynebacterium, were found in the air around the people, but their combinations was the key element that distinguishes the individuals form one another.
Millions of microorganisms
Analysing particles suspended in the air and the communities of bacteria, the researchers found that there were more than 14 million sequences representing thousands of different types of bacteria present in 312 samples of air and dust taken from the clean room. “We expected to be able to detect the human microbiome in the air around a person, but not to get to identify it by the standards of the cloud of bacteria,” said Meadow. A result that could help to better understand the mechanisms behind the spread of infection, and also in the police investigation, to find out whether or not a person has been in place.
It must be said that it will take time to be able to use this discovery in the forensic field. In fact the clean room is an environment different from that in which we live, where clouds of bacterial from different individuals merge between them. Moreover, unlike fingerprints, the ‘cloud’ of bacteria can change over time. So there is still time before a precise identikit is made in order to investigate a murder using the micro-organisms.