Researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder have shown that bacteria found on the skin can be used as personal identifiers. This is possible because the bacteria that reside on a person's hands are unique, even among identical twins. These bacteria are left behind on the items we touch. By genetically sequencing bacterial DNA, specific bacteria found on surfaces can be matched to the hands of the person from which they came. These bacteria can be used as a type of fingerprint because of their uniqueness and their ability to remain unchanged for several weeks.
In the study, the research team swabbed computer keyboards from individual users. They were able to match specific bacteria from the keyboards to bacteria found on the fingertips of individual users. In a similar test, the research team was able to match keyboard mice to their users after analyzing bacteria swabbed from the palms of each user's hands. The researchers believe that their method of bacterial analysis could be a useful tool in forensic identification when human DNA or clear fingerprints can not be obtained.
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