Wednesday, March 17, 2010

germs may blow the whistle on crooks one day

forensic role for hand bacteria
germs may blow the whistle on crooks one dayfrom ap: Warning to criminals: Rubbing out your fingerprints may no longer be enough. Your germs could still give you away. It turns out the colonies of bacteria that live on people's hands are highly personal to each individual. That means forensic experts could one day use those bacteria to prove who had touched an object, researchers report in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Each one of us leaves a unique trail of bugs behind as we travel through our daily lives. While this project is still in its preliminary stages, we think the technique could eventually become a valuable new item in the toolbox of forensic scientists," lead author Noah Fierer of the University of Colorado said in a statement...

In addition to smudged fingerprints, the technique may also be useful in determining who has touched things like fabrics and highly textured materials, the researchers said... The new research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

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