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  • Microbiological Indicators Reflect Patterns of Life

    Abstract:  Resolving patterns of human movement, specifically for actors of interest, in an urban environment is an extremely challenging problem because of the dynamic nature of human movement. This research effort explores a highly unconventional approach, addressing residual or lingering signatures of interest to the Army in an urban operation. Research suggests that unconventional signatures commonly associated with human presence or prior occupation of a space, such as microbes attached to skin cells or in the gut, may linger for an extended amount of time. In this scoping study, our objectives were to detect microbial communities in the built environment, to examine microbial community composition, and to investigate the longevity of a microbial signature. To do so, we conducted a controlled study to obtain a mechanistic understanding of the fidelity of the biological signatures in the built environment, with a particular focus on their longevity and stability.