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.

Related Articles


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 March 3, 2015 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 March 3, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rare Goblin Shark Found in Australia

Rare Goblin Shark Found in Australia

AFP (Mar. 3, 2015) A goblin shark, a rare sea creature described as an &apos;alien of the deep&apos; is found off Australia and delivered to the Australian Museum in Sydney. Duration: 01:25 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
500 Snakes Surprise Construction Workers In Canada

500 Snakes Surprise Construction Workers In Canada

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) Hundreds of snakes, disturbed by a construction project, were relocated to a wildlife rescue association in Canada. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Going Gluten-Free Could Get You A Tax Break

Going Gluten-Free Could Get You A Tax Break

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) If a doctor advises you to remove gluten from your diet, you could get a tax deduction on the amount you spend on gluten-free foods. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Zookeepers Copy Animal Poses In Hilarious Viral Photos

Zookeepers Copy Animal Poses In Hilarious Viral Photos

Buzz60 (Mar. 2, 2015) Zookeepers at the Symbio Wildlife Park in Helensburgh, Australia decided to take some of their favorite animal photos and recreate them by posing just like the animals. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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