Assessment of Fungal Succession in Decomposing Swine Carcasses (Sus scrofa L.) Using DNA Metabarcoding

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The decomposition of animal bodies is a process defined by specific stages, described by the state of the body and participation of certain guilds of invertebrates and microorganisms. While the participation of invertebrates in decomposing is well-studied and actively used in crime scene investigations, information on bacteria and fungi from the scene is rarely collected or used in the identification of important factors such as estimated time of death. Modern molecular techniques such as DNA metabarcoding allow the identification and quantification of the composition of microbial communities. In this study, we used DNA metabarcoding to monitor fungal succession during the decomposition of juvenile pigs in grasslands of New Jersey, USA. Our findings show that decomposition stages differ in a diversity of fungal communities. In particular, we noted increased fungal species richness in the more advanced stages of decomposition (e.g., bloat and decay stages), with unique fungal taxa becoming active with the progression of decay. Overall, our findings improve knowledge of how fungi contribute to forensically relevant decomposition and could help with the assessment of crime scenes.

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Journal of Fungi



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