Submitted to: Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/1/2006
Publication Date: 10/1/2006
Citation: Budowle, B., Schutzer, S.E., Burans, J.P., Beecher, D.J., Cebula, T.A., Chakraborty, R., Cobb, W.T., Fletcher, J., Hale, M.L., Harris, R.B., Heitkamp, M.A., Keller, F.P., Kuske, C., Leclerc, J.E., Marrone, B.L., Mckenna, T.S., Morse, S.A., Rodriguez, L.L., Valentine, N.B., Yadev, J. 2006. Quality Sample Collection, Handling, and Preservation for an Effective Microbial Forensics Program. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 72 (10): 6431-8.
Interpretive Summary: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), whose mission is, in part, to respond to and to prevent acts of terrorism against the United States, has established the National Bioforensics Analysis Center (NBFAC). One approach used by the NBFAC to establish a sound foundation, foster communication, and facilitate integration across government and other agencies is to promote independent meetings, which address specific needs and provide a forum for input from the broader scientific community, on the best scientific practices in microbial forensics. As part of this ongoing effort, a series of meetings sponsored by DHS were held at the Banbury Center of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, NY, to address specific issues for the enhancement of microbial forensic capability. One such meeting, held October 16-19, 2005, focused on the collection, handling, and storage of samples. The participants represented diverse scientific entities within academia, the private sector, the national laboratories and several federal agencies (CIA, CDC, DHS, FBI, FDA, USDA), some of which have been involved in evidence collection for purposes related to forensics, public health, or plant and animal health. The collection and preservation of microbial forensic evidence is paramount to efficient and successful investigation and attribution. If evidence (when available) is not collected, degrades, or is contaminated during collection, handling, transport or storage, the downstream characterization and attribution analyses may be compromised. Retrieving sufficient quantities and maintaining the integrity of the evidence increase the chances of being able to characterize the material to obtain the highest level of attribution possible. This paper presents issues related to the practices of sample collection, handling, transportation and storage, and includes recommendations for future direction for the field of microbial forensics and those participating within it. The recommendations apply to the NBFAC, as well as to other facilities and practitioners.
Technical Abstract: The collection and preservation of microbial forensic evidence are paramount to effeceint and successful investigation and attribution. If evidence, when available, is not collected, degrades, or is contaminated during collection, handling, transport, or storage, the downstream characterization and attribution analysis may be compromised. Retrieving sufficient quantities and maintaining the integrity of the evidence increase the chances of being able to characterize the material to obtain the hightest level of attribution possible. This paper presents issues related to the practices of sample collection, handling, transportation, and storage and includes recommendations for future directions for the field of microbial forensics and people participating in it. The recommendations apply to the National Bioforensics Analysis Center (NBFAC) as well as to other facilties and practitioners.