Published: Monday, March 15, 2010, 8:03 PM Updated: Monday, March 15, 2010, 8:05 PM
According to a study published online Monday, bacteria that live on a person's hands could one day accurately identify that individual. This could come in handy to track down a criminal who has worn gloves, removed prints and other personal physical evidence, or touched surfaces such as fabric where a fingerprint wouldn't show up, the researchers said.
The concept, outlined in a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, relies upon the fact that human beings leave a trail of bacteria on objects they touch and that the mix of microbes on each person's hand is highly individualized.
"There's a rain forest of bacteria on your skin," said lead author Noah Fierer, an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. A human hand can contain on average about 100 different species of bacteria, he said, and only about 13 percent of that makeup is shared between any two people.
Fierer and colleagues compared the bacteria found on people's computer mice to a database of bacteria collected from hands of 270 individuals. The bacterial colonies from the computer mice most closely matched that of the owner's hands, the scientists found.
The technique was between 70 percent and 90 percent accurate overall, but this could be sharpened as technology becomes more sophisticated, Fierer said. . . " Read More