Investigating the genital microbiome by metagenomic sequencing and qPCR to prove sexual contact
About the session
During sexual contact, material from the genital microbiome could be transferred between both partners. This hypothesis could serve as an alternative test when collecting forensic evidence in sexual assault cases. Our project investigates the genital microbiome by deep metagenomic sequencing followed by developing a real-time PCR assay for specific genital microbial taxa with the potential to be signature organisms for the female and male genital microbiomes. Pre- and post-coital genital samples from 19 female and male volunteers were collected, extracted, quantified and amplified using the qPCR-based methodology. Four Lactobacilli species were investigated and tested for vaginal specificity that have been proposed to make up the bulk of a healthy vaginal microbiome, whereas Gardnerella vaginalis is solely present in females with bacterial vaginosis. Results show that during sexual contact, bacteria are transferred that can be used in forensic science to objectively prove if sexual contact occurred.