Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Jordan, Heather R.

Committee Member

Thornton, Justin A.

Committee Member

Brown, Matthew W.

Committee Member

Perkins, Andy D.

Committee Member

Benbow, M. Eric

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Biological Sciences

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Biological Sciences


Postmortem microbial communities are being extensively studied for their utility in forensic science investigations. Microbial communities associated with decomposition, necrobiome, have been shown to react in a predictable manner to the postmortem interval or time since death. These communities are affected by environmental factors such as temperature and humidity which can cause variabilities in the community structural and functional turnover. However, the transmigration patterns across organs and functional activity as decomposition progresses is still relatively unknown in a highly controlled system. This study aims to describe the community structural changes that take place during a highly controlled decomposition in mice along with one of the first representations of visualizing transmigration and detecting functional pathway differences between postmortem times. Although, postmortem microbial communities have been viewed under the scope of forensics, there are also extended uses of early postmortem microbiome communities that represent the antemortem microbiome for health research. Additionally, in this study we aim to provide evidence for the use of the early postmortem microbiome as a public health surveillance tool by detecting antibiotic resistance determinants with their corresponding bacterial genera in human autopsies. These results have provided important baseline microbial community structure and function data for forensic research in murine models and have identified antibiotic resistance determinants of high public health concern in human autopsy samples.