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Bioforensics: Characterization of biological weapons agents by NanoSIMS

By P K Weber, S Ghosal, T J Leighton, K E Wheeler and I D Hutcheon

Abstract

The anthrax attacks of Fall 2001 highlight the need to develop forensic methods based on multiple identifiers to determine the origin of biological weapons agents. Genetic typing methods (i.e., DNA and RNA-based) provide one attribution technology, but genetic information alone is not usually sufficient to determine the provenance of the material. Non-genetic identifiers, including elemental and isotopic signatures, provide complementary information that can be used to identify the means, geographic location and date of production. Under LDRD funding, we have successfully developed the techniques necessary to perform bioforensic characterization with the NanoSIMS at the individual spore level. We have developed methods for elemental and isotopic characterization at the single spore scale. We have developed methods for analyzing spore sections to map elemental abundance within spores. We have developed rapid focused ion beam (FIB) sectioning techniques for spores to preserve elemental and structural integrity. And we have developed a high-resolution depth profiling method to characterize the elemental distribution in individual spores without sectioning. We used these newly developed methods to study the controls on elemental abundances in spores, characterize the elemental distribution of in spores, and to study elemental uptake by spores. Our work under this LDRD project attracted FBI and DHS funding for applied purposes

Topics: Federal Bureau Of Investigation, Origin, Abundance, Genetics, Ion Beams, 37 Inorganic, Organic, Physical And Analytical Chemistry, 59 Basic Biological Sciences, Production, Dna, Biological Warfare Agents, Spores, Distribution, Weapons
Publisher: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Year: 2007
DOI identifier: 10.2172/1036844
OAI identifier:
Provided by: UNT Digital Library
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