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- PublicationMétadonnées seulementResponse of forest soil euglyphid testate amoebae (Rhizaria: Cercozoa) to pig cadavers assessed by high-throughput sequencing(2016-3-1)
; ; ; ; ;Decomposing cadavers modify the soil environment, but the effect on soil organisms and especially on soil protists is still poorly documented. We conducted a 35-month experiment in a deciduous forest where soil samples were taken under pig cadavers, control plots and fake pigs (bags of similar volume as the pigs). We extracted total soil DNA, amplified the SSU ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene V9 region and sequenced it by Illumina technology and analysed the data for euglyphid testate amoebae (Rhizaria: Euglyphida), a common group of protozoa known to respond to micro- environmental changes. We found 51 euglyphid operational taxonomic units (OTUs), 45 of which did not match any known sequence. Most OTUs decreased in abundance underneath cadavers between days 0 and 309, but some responded positively after a time lag. We sequenced the full-length SSU rRNA gene of two common OTUs that responded positively to cadavers; a phylogenetic analysis showed that they did not belong to any known euglyphid family. This study confirmed the existence of an unknown diversity of euglyphids and that they react to cadavers. Results suggest that metabarcoding of soil euglyphids could be used as a forensic tool to estimate the post-mortem interval (PMI) particularly for long-term (>2 months) PMI, for which no reliable tool exists.
- PublicationMétadonnées seulementCan soil testate amoebae be used for estimating the time since death? A field experiment in a deciduous forest(2014)
; ; ; ;Amendt, JensEstimation of the post-mortem interval (PMI, the time interval between death and recovery of a body) can be crucial in solving criminal cases. Today minimum PMI calculations rely mainly on medical and entomological evidence. However, beyond 4-6 weeks even entomological methods become less accurate. Thus additional tools are needed. Cadaveric fluids released by decomposing cadavers modify the soil environment and thus impact soil organisms, which may thus be used to estimate the PMI. Although the response of bacteria or fungi to the presence of a corpse has been studied, to the best of our knowledge nothing is known about other soil organisms. Testate amoebae, a group of shelled protozoa, are sensitive bioindicators of soil physico-chemical and micro-climatic conditions and are therefore good potential PMI indicators. We investigated the response of testate amoebae to three decomposing pig cadavers, and compared the pattern to two controls each, bare soils and fake cadavers, in a beach-oak forest near Neuchatel, Switzerland. Forest litter samples collected in the three treatments over 10 months were analysed by microscopy. The pig treatment significantly impacted the testate amoeba community: after 22 and 33 days no living amoeba remained underneath the pig cadavers. Communities subsequently recovered but 10 months after the beginning of the experiment recovery was not complete. The fake cadavers also influenced the testate amoeba communities by altering the soil microclimate during a dry hot period, but less than the cadavers. These results confirm the sensitivity of soil testate amoebae to micro-climatic conditions and show that they respond fast to the presence of cadavers -and that this effect although decreasing over time lasts for months, possibly several years. This study therefore confirms that soil protozoa could potentially be useful as forensic indicators, especially in cases with a longer PMI. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
- PublicationAccès libreSoil chemistry changes beneath decomposing cadavers over a one-year period(2018-3-6)
; ; ;Seppey, Christophe V.W. ;Decomposing vertebrate cadavers release large, localized inputs of nutrients. These temporally limited resource patches affect nutrient cycling and soil organisms. The impact of decomposing cadavers on soil chemistry is relevant to soil biology, as a natural disturbance, and forensic science, to estimate the postmortem interval. However, cadaver impacts on soils are rarely studied, making it difficult to identify common patterns. We investigated the effects of decomposing pig cadavers (Sus scrofa domesticus) on soil chemistry (pH, ammonium, nitrate, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and carbon) over a one-year period in a sprucedominant forest. Four treatments were applied, each with five replicates: two treatments including pig cadavers (placed on the ground and hung one metre above ground) and two controls (bare soil and bags filled with soil placed on the ground i.e. “fake pig” treatment). In the first two months (15–59 days after the start of the experiment), cadavers caused significant increases of ammonium, nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (p < 0.05) whereas nitrate significantly increased towards the end of the study (263–367 days; p < 0.05). Soil pH increased significantly at first and then decreased significantly at the end of the experiment. After one year, some markers returned to basal levels (i.e. not significantly different from control plots), whereas others were still significantly different. Based on these response patterns and in comparison with previous studies, we define three categories of chemical markers that may have the potential to date the time since death: early peak markers (EPM), late peak markers (LPM) and late decrease markers (LDM). The marker categories will enhance our understanding of soil processes and can be highly useful when changes in soil chemistry are related to changes in the composition of soil organism communities. For actual casework further studies and more data are necessary to refine the marker categories along a more precise timeline and to develop a method that can be used in court.
- PublicationMétadonnées seulementEffects of decomposing cadavers on soil nematode communities over a one-year period(2016-12-1)
; ; ; ; ;Steel, Hanne ;Neilson, Roy ;Griffiths, Bryan S. ;Amendt, JensIn terrestrial ecosystems decomposing cadavers act as resource patches affecting nutrient cycling and soil communities, but the effects on soil communities are not well known. In this study we investigated nematode community response to decomposing pig cadavers (Sus scrofa) over a one-year period. As nematodes play key roles in soil food webs and are known to respond to disturbances and nutrient enrichment, we hypothesised that they would respond to decomposing cadavers and that this response would change over time. We compared the temporal patterns of nematode density and community structure under pig cadavers, either placed directly on the ground or hung 1 m aboveground (for effects of cadaveric fluids only), with two controls, i.e., bare soil and bags filled with soil placed on the ground (fake pigs e for microclimatic effects only). In the control and fake pig treatments nematode densities, community patterns and maturity indices did not change significantly. In contrast, density increased significantly underneath the ground and hanging pigs two weeks after the beginning of the experiment, and nematode family richness, Simpson diversity and maturity index were sgnificantly reduced in the cadaver treatments. Most nematode families responded negatively to cadavers with the notable exceptions of Rhabditidae, Neodiplogasteridae and Diplogasteroididae. The latter two were found exclusively underneath the decomposing cadavers and are promising bioindicators of vertebrate cadaver decomposition. Even though diversity, density and communities were recovering after one year, the impact of cadavers was still significant for the maturity index. These contrasting patterns illustrate how decomposing cadavers contribute to increasing local biodiversity and suggest that soil nematodes could be used as a tool to document the presence of a decomposing cadaver, or to estimate the time elapsed since death (post-mortem interval). Patterns should, however, be compared in different settings and seasons before such a tool can be validated.