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Abstract Detail


Taylor, Anthony [1].

Detecting clandestine graves using white Dutch clover: growth and germination in response to high cadaverine levels.

In areas where clandestine graves are common, methods for their detection are of value to forensic investigators. As plants are also quite common, grave detection methods using plants would be quite convenient. It is known that during animal decomposition an organic molecule called cadaverine is released in high concentrations and this same molecule has been found in plants with an unknown purpose. Can plants accumulate excess cadaverine given off by decomposition, and can this be used as a method for detecting clandestine graves? Two growth trials and two germination trials involving Trifolium repens were undertaken in a 2x2 factorial set-up using a randomized block design. Two variables, soil type and cadaverine source, were tested on 5 experimental groups plus control. Testing for accumulated cadaverine in plant tissues could not be done due to COVID-19 related lab shutdowns, but cadaverine source did not significantly influence plant growth. Soil type had a stronger effect. Cadaverine source was, however, the largest influencer of germination, with every treatment group developing a zone of inhibition, the diameter of which depended on the identity of the source. However, upon further investigation this zone is most likely the result of large pH swings as opposed to high levels of external cadaverine. At this time, T. repens does not seem to be an effective visual indicator for clandestine graves, but potential still remains for further investigation on the effects of high external cadaverine and pH on plant systems, particularly those involving germination.

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forensic botany
Trifolium repens
clandestine graves
forensic science

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: PHYT1, Phytochemistry I
Location: /
Date: Tuesday, July 20th, 2021
Time: 11:00 AM(EDT)
Number: PHYT1005
Abstract ID:36
Candidate for Awards:Phytochemical Best Oral Presentation Award

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