Washington: People leave more than fingerprints when they touch stuff -- they also deposit a tell-tale trail of germs that could help investigators solve crimes, US researchers reported on Monday.
The University of Colorado team had previously found that a typical person carries about 150 bacterial species on the hands, and that any two given people only share about 13 percent of these different species."The obvious question then was whether we could identify objects that have been touched by particular individuals," Fierer said.They also left the bacteria out in the open for two weeks to see if they would break down, but they did not. "That finding was a real surprise to us," said Fierer. "We didn`t know just how hardy these creatures were."The researchers were able to do the study because of rapid advances in techniques and equipment for sequencing DNA. A larger project is under way to sequence all the DNA in the human "microbiome" -- the collection of bugs that live on the skin, in the nose, hair, ears and digestive tract.These organisms help digest and metabolize food and may affect skin conditions.And unlike non-native disease-causing germs, they are not dislodged by standard hygiene."Palm surface bacterial communities recover within hours after hand washing," the researchers wrote. Bureau Report
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