Studies of human microbiomes using new sequencing techniques have increasingly demonstrated that their ecologies are partly determined by the lifestyle and habits of individuals. As such, significant forensic information could be obtained from high throughput sequencing of the human microbiome. This approach, combined with multiple analytical techniques demonstrates that bacterial DNA can be used to uniquely identify an individual and to provide information about their life and behavioral patterns. However, the transformation of these findings into actionable forensic information, including the geolocation of the samples, remains limited by incomplete understanding of the effects of confounding factors and the paucity of diverse sequences. We obtained 16S rRNA sequences of stool and oral microbiomes collected from 206 young and healthy females from four globally diverse populations, in addition to supporting metadata, including dietary and medical information. Analysis of these microbiomes revealed detectable geolocation signals between the populations, even for populations living within the same city. Accounting for other lifestyle variables, such as diet and smoking, lessened but does not remove the geolocation signal.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
T.H.C., H.S. contributed to the analysis and interpretation of data, generated figures, assisted in public release of the data, and wrote the manuscript. L.B. designed the study and wrote the manuscript. C.G. contributed to the analysis and interpretation of data, generated figures, submitted data to public repositories, and reviewed the manuscript. A.T.A., P.C., C.I., T.T., and W.W. recruited subjects and critically reviewed the manuscript. M.T. collected and prepared the samples for microbial analysis, supervised sequencing, and reviewed the manuscript. K.E.N. conceptualized the study, co-supervised study design and recruitment, critically reviewed the manuscript, and provided financial support. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
The authors would like to thank Dr. Marianela Godoy, Ms Tiisetso Tau, and Dr. Marquita Gittens, for recruiting participants and collecting data as well as students from the University of the West Indies, University of the Andes, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University and Chulalongkorn University who participated in the study.
© 2022, The Author(s).