One day, microbes will help decompose your flesh, hair, and perhaps even your bones. This is unless you chose to have your body cremated, in which case you will depriving a diverse community of microorganisms of a huge source of nutrients. What are these microbes? From where do they come from? Are they already in our bodies, just passing the time until we kick the bucket? or are they floating around in the surrounding environment? Is the decomposer community of microbes always the same? Are waves of microbes during decomposition predictable (like we see with insects in forensic entomology)? These are the questions we are trying to answer right now with our microbial forensics research.
What we have discovered so far is that, yes, the wave of microbes is predictable! So predictable in fact, that it could be useful for estimating the time since death at crime scenes!
See our first publication in eLife!