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."
|Contact: Neil Tickner|
University of Maryland