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    Vertebrate decomposition results in an ephemeral disturbance of the surrounding environment. Microbial decomposers are recognized as key players in the breakdown of complex organic compounds, controlling carbon and nutrient fate in the ecosystem and potentially serving as indicators of time since death for forensic applications. As a result, there has been increasing attention on documenting the microbial communities associated with vertebrate decomposition, or the 'necrobiome'. These necrobiome studies differ in the vertebrate species, microhabitats (e.g. skin vs. soil), and geographic locations studied, but many are narrowly focused on the forensic application of microbial data, missing the larger opportunity to understand the ecology of these communities. To further our understanding of microbial dynamics during vertebrate decomposition and identify knowledge gaps, there is a need to assess the current works from an ecological systems perspective. In this review, we examine recent work pertaining to microbial community dynamics and succession during vertebrate (human and other mammals) decomposition in terrestrial ecosystems, through the lens of a microbial succession ecological framework. From this perspective, we describe three major microbial microhabitats (internal, external, and soil) in terms of their unique successional trajectories and identify three major knowledge gaps that remain to be addressed. © The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of FEMS.


    Allison R Mason, Lois S Taylor, Jennifer M DeBruyn. Microbial ecology of vertebrate decomposition in terrestrial ecosystems. FEMS microbiology ecology. 2023 Jan 24;99(2)

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    PMID: 36631293

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