Non-DNA Methods for Biological Signatures

Charlene M. Schaldach, Graham Bench, James J. DeYoreo, Tony Esposito, David P. Fergenson, James Ferreira, Eric Gard, Patrick Grant, Christopher Hollars, Joanne Horn, Thomas R Huser, Michaele Kashgarian, John Knezovich, Stephen M. Lane, Alexander J. Malkin, Maurice Pitesky, Chad Talley, Herb J. Tobias, Bruce Woods, Kuang Jen WuStephan P. Velsko

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

8 Scopus citations


This chapter focuses on the methods that can determine chemical or structural features of biological agent particles that are signatures of particular methods of growth and post-growth processing (often referred to as "weaponization"). The detection of these signatures in a sample of a bio-weapon (BW) agent can aid the attribution by indicating: (1) the level of sophistication of the producer, (2) the access to particular types of agent weaponization information, (3) the likelihood that the material could be or has been produced at a significant scale, (4) and by providing essential sample matching data for ascertaining a putative relationship with other samples obtained in other venues. An example of the use of biologicals in forensic science is DNA, amplifi{ligature}ed by the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technique, legally admissible in courtas evidence. DNA evidence is successfully used in the court to convict or clear people of crimes because each person's DNA is unique. High-resolution techniques are being applied to investigations; such as Environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) is used for taking high-resolution images under hydrated conditions; this avoids any artifacts associated with the critical point drying process that is required under normal Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) operations. ESEM is also equipped with Energy Dispersive X-ray (EDX) microanalysis and Backscatter capabilities. SEM is a standard "workhorse" technique for characterizing particulate samples, found in many laboratories worldwide. It provides excellent imaging of the surfaces of agent particles and other material in a sample, and is used for identifying likely agent particles for analysis by other instruments. When combined with EDX, the elemental composition of the material in the imaged region can be determined. These techniques continue to signature libraries of correlations between analyses and growth and processing conditions of growth, it will be necessary to develop an information system which combines types of data to determine unique signatures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMicrobial Forensics
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages44
ISBN (Print)9780120884834
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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