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Now, the story can be told - how scientists helped ID 'Amerithrax'
Date:3/8/2011

.nas.edu/Report/Review-Scientific-Approaches-Used/13098">http://dels.nas.edu/Report/Review-Scientific-Approaches-Used/13098> found no fault with the science. However, it did challenge the FBI's interpretation and use of it, concluding, "The scientific link between the letter material and flask RMR-1029 is not as conclusive as stated in the Department of Justice Investigative summary."

MICROBIAL FORENSICS: A NEW TOOL FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT

The researchers' 2001 work, in effect, launched a new field of microbial forensics, the study reports.

"Before the anthrax letter attacks of 2001, the developing field of microbial forensics relied on microbial genotyping schemes based on a small portion of a genome sequence. Amerithrax, the investigation into the anthrax letter attacks, applied high-resolution whole-genome sequencing and comparative genomics.This study demonstrates the forensic value of systematic microbiological analysis combined with whole-genome sequencing and comparative genomics," according to the PNAS article.

"Ten years ago, the team broke new ground, and in the intervening years we've developed this into a standard tool that law enforcement and anti-terror agencies can use on their own," Salzberg explained. "We recently finished a project for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, producing an online, open-source tool that agencies can download and use to fingerprint microbes used in attacks."


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Contact: Neil Tickner
ntickner@umd.edu
301-405-4622
University of Maryland
Source:Eurekalert

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