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Forget fingerprints, track bacteria

March 21, 2014

VANCOUVER, BC — According to a microbial ecologist speaking at a conference here, bacteria on hands leaves a "print" on surfaces that can be identified at up to 95 percent certainty, and this practice may have a future in forensic investigations, Business Insider Australia reported.

Rob Knight explained that two humans can have wildly different bacteria living on their skin, and a study tested whether this bacteria could be recovered from sources like keyboards and computer mice, the article stated.

In 2010, this technique was tested at 70 to 90 percent accurate, and the accuracy rate is rapidly improving, according to the article.

In the test, Knight and his colleagues compared bacteria on three keyboards to bacteria living on their own fingers, and the results were different enough to show who had used the different keyboards, the article noted.

The study authors admitted DNA samples currently are more accurate, but this bacterial testing could provide a more "personally identifying" picture than other accepted techniques, the article stated.

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