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Abstract

The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic accelerated developments in biotechnology that underpin infection science. These advances present an opportunity to refresh the microbial forensic toolkit. Integration of novel analytical techniques with established forensic methods will speed up acquisition of evidence and better support lines of enquiry. A critical part of any such investigation is demonstration of a robust causal relationship and attribution of responsibility for an incident. In the wider context of a formal investigation into agency, motivation and intent, the quick and efficient assembly of microbiological evidence sets the tone and tempo of the entire investigation. Integration of established and novel analytical techniques from infection science into a systematic approach to microbial forensics will therefore ensure that major perspectives are correctly used to frame and shape the evidence into a clear narrative, while recognizing that forensic hypothesis generation, testing and refinement comprise an iterative process. Development of multidisciplinary training exercises that use this approach will enable translation into practice and efficient implementation when the need arises.

Funding
This study was supported by the:
  • Future Health Research and Innovation Fund, Western Australia
    • Principle Award Recipient: TimothyJ. J. Inglis
  • National Health and Medical Research Council (Award 2021/GNT2012074)
    • Principle Award Recipient: TimothyJ. J. Inglis
  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. This article was made open access via a Publish and Read agreement between the Microbiology Society and the corresponding author’s institution.
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2024-02-02
2024-02-28
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