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Each human body contains a complex community of trillions of microorganisms that are important for your health while you’re alive. These microbial symbionts help you digest food, produce essential vitamins, protect you from infection and serve many other critical functions. In turn, the microbes, which are mostly concentrated in your gut, get to live in a relatively stable warm environment with a steady supply of food.

But what happens to these symbiotic allies after you die?

Jennifer DeBruyn, professor of environmental microbiology, biosystems engineering and soil science, studies the necrobiome – the microbes that live in, on and around a decomposing body — and shares her expertise about postmortem microbial legacy. In a recently published study, DeBruyn and her research team provide evidence that microbes not only continue to live on after their host’s death but play an important role in recycling the body so that new life can flourish. Read the full article at The Conversation.

UT is a member of The Conversation, an independent source for news articles and informed analysis written by the academic community and edited by journalists for the general public. Through our partnership, we seek to provide a better understanding of the important work of our faculty.



Cindi King (865-974-0937,