Scientists have discovered that all corpses share similarities in their microbial networks, regardless of where they come from. This research, published in Nature Microbiology, sheds new light on the natural world and the role of bacteria and fungal decomposers in breaking down corpses.
As bodies begin to decompose, they contain a selection of rare bacteria and fungi that are essential to the decomposition ecosystem. These microbes help to break down organic material and eventually become part of the soil, helping with plant production. The study involved burying 36 donated corpses in different locations with distinct environmental features, yet all samples taken by researchers featured the same selection of microbes.
Dr Devin Finaughty spoke to IFLScience about decomposition and how it pivots around the dead body as a resource for food, breeding ground for organisms, and shelter. The study highlights the importance of understanding these microbial networks in order to better understand our own health and the natural world around us.