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Using oral microbial DNA analysis to identify expirated bloodspatter


Distinguishing expirated bloodstains (blood forced by airflow out of the nose, mouth or a chest wound) from impact spatter (blood from gunshots, explosives, blunt force trauma and/or machinery accidents) is an important challenge in forensic science. Streptococcal bacteria are only found in the human mouth and saliva. This study developed a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method that detects DNA from these bacteria as a sensitive tool to detect the presence of saliva. The PCR method was very specific to human oral streptococci, with no PCR product being made from human DNA or DNA from other microbes that were tested. It was also very sensitive, detecting as little as 60 fg of target DNA. The PCR amplification gave product with 99 out of 100 saliva samples tested. PCR was not inhibited by the presence of blood and could detect target DNA in expirated bloodstains in a range of materials and for up to 92 days after deposit on cardboard or cotton fabric. In a blind trial, the PCR method was able to distinguish three mock forensic samples that contained expirated blood from four that did not. Our data show that bacteria present in the oral cavity can be detected in bloodstains that contain saliva and therefore can potentially be used as a marker in forensic work to distinguish mouth-expirated bloodstains from other types of bloodstains.

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