A recent study published in Nature Microbiology has shed light on a surprising commonality among corpses, regardless of their origin. The study found that all dead bodies share similar microbial networks, featuring bacteria and fungal decomposers that are rare in the rest of the world. These microbes play a crucial role in the natural world by breaking down corpses and becoming part of the “decomposition ecosystem” to help with plant production.
Researchers buried 36 donated corpses in different locations with distinct environmental features, but despite the varying conditions, they found that all samples taken from the bodies featured the same selection of microbes. Insects could potentially carry these microbes to decomposing human and animal remains, further spreading their influence.
Dr. Devin Finaughty, not involved in the study, explained that decomposition is a process where organisms consume organic material for food, breeding ground, nursery, and shelter. However, it is different from physical degradation of organic remains by erosive forces like water. The decomposition system revolves around dead bodies as a resource for many organisms.
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