Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The Science Behind The 'Anthrax Letter' Attack Investigation

Date:
February 26, 2009
Source:
American Society for Microbiology
Summary:
Innovative science was a very important part of the investigation of the anthrax letters but has been widely misrepresented in the popular press because of secrecy requirements imposed by the FBI. This secrecy veil is now being lifted by allowing the investigative scientists to present their findings and methods.

Innovative science was a very important part of the investigation of the anthrax letters, but has been widely misrepresented in the popular press because of secrecy requirements imposed by the FBI. This secrecy veil is now being lifted by allowing the investigative scientists to present their methods and findings.

Scientists directly involved in the investigation of the anthrax letter attacks of 2001 described the process of investigating the anthrax letter attacks in a presentation given on February 24, 2009 at the ASM Biodefense and Emerging Diseases Research Meeting in Baltimore, MD.

Paul Keim of Northern Arizona University described the crime scene, the events, letters and the victims in the context of their work. Much of Dr. Keim's talk was about the Ames strain, which was the type of B. anthracis found in the letters. Scientists examined B. anthracis strains. Whole genome sequencing of the Ames genome led to the discovery of DNA polymorphisms that were unique to the Ames laboratory strain. Highly sensitive and specific assays were developed to identify the strain material. These were subjected to extensive validation to insure that the investigators knew their strengths and weaknesses.

Joe Michael from the Sandia National Lab in Albuquerque presented spore analysis – in particular he discussed the electromagnetic analysis for silicon in the spores. His analysis explained where the silicon is found within the letter spores and that its origin was probably part of the culture and growth process.

Jacques Ravel of University of Maryland School of Medicine/Institute for Genome Sciences, Baltimore, Maryland, presented the discovery of colony morphology mutants in the letter material and how these morphs were isolated and then whole genome sequenced. He and his team used comparative genomics to identify the genetic basis of the morphological differences. Finally, he presented their assay development, validation and implementation.

Tom Reynolds of Commonwealth Biotechnologies, Inc., Richmond, Virginia, described his team's development of two assays to detect the genetic signatures associated with the morphological variants from the letters. This included a description of the forensic analysis standards that were applied to the work.

Jason Bannan of the Federal Bureau of Investigation coordinated the scientific investigation of multiple laboratories and handled the evidence in the case. He discussed integrating the science from multiple labs and how it tied the anthrax letters to a particular source flask. He included a discussion of the federal legal standards for new scientific evidence and how the scientific teams were addressing this requirement.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Microbiology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Society for Microbiology. "The Science Behind The 'Anthrax Letter' Attack Investigation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090224225909.htm>.
American Society for Microbiology. (2009, February 26). The Science Behind The 'Anthrax Letter' Attack Investigation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090224225909.htm
American Society for Microbiology. "The Science Behind The 'Anthrax Letter' Attack Investigation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090224225909.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

AP (July 30, 2014) River otters were hitting the water slides to beat the summer heatwave on Wednesday at Ichikawa City's Zoological and Botanical Garden. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins