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Peculiarities of Microbiota of Bone Remains and Their Use in Forensic Examination. P. 156–164

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Section: Medical and biological sciences




Andrey N. Prikhod’ko*, Ol’ga S. Lavrukova**, Natal’ya A. Sidorova**, Vyacheslav L. Popov***
*Bureau of Forensic Medical Examination (Petrozavodsk, Russian Federation)
**Petrozavodsk State University (Petrozavodsk, Russian Federation)
***Academician I.P. Pavlov First St. Petersburg State Medical University (St. Petersburg, Russian Federation)
Corresponding author: Ol’ga Lavrukova, address: ul. Borovaya 32, kv. 4, Petrozavodsk, 185013, Respublika Kareliya, Russian Federation; e-mail:


This article summarizes the results of complex studies on specific postmortem microbiomes isolated from the surface of bone remains found in the composition of historical burials. Using standard methods, 9 samples were obtained from the surfaces of the femur and the ilium as well as from the surface of the musculoskeletal conglomerate in the anterior projection of the sacrum surface. The isolates were identified as Ascomycota and Deuteromycota. In all the cultures we observed pronounced phenotypic polymorphism, low activity of extracellular hydrolases, and high activity of mycelial catalase, which is a factor of adaptation to the conditions of oxidative stress arising from deficiency of nutrient substrate for the isolated groups of microorganisms. Fungi of the genus Cladosporium can be considered better adapted to protein and carbohydrate deficiency. We have suggested that in the course of decomposition of bone remains, specific recolonization of the substrate takes place. Environmental factors, climatic and weather phenomena as well as changes in the oxidation-reduction potential of the bone matrix caused by necrobiont fauna create new opportunities for microbial infiltration into bones. Primary colonizers of corpses are replaced by microorganisms of bone remains capable of acquiring nutrients and energy from the tissues of bones, ligaments and hair, thereby increasing their own metabolic and taxonomic diversity. The main reason for recolonization of substrates with a limited set of nutrients is the labile enzymatic apparatus of the microorganisms adapted to oligotrophy. The results obtained allow us to estimate the contribution of certain postmortem microbiome species to the changes in the structure of bone fragments, which in future can expand the evidence base for forensic medical examination and forensic archaeology.


forensic medical examination, forensic archaeology, necrobiome, bone remains, phenotypic polymorphism of microorganisms, adaptation of microorganisms
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