Forensically Important Blow Flies Chrysomya pinguis, C. villeneuvi, and Lucilia porphyrina (Diptera: Calliphoridae) in a Case of Human Remains in Thailand.
ABSTRACT: This is the first study to report Chrysomya pinguis (Walker) and Lucilia porphyrina (Walker) (Diptera: Calliphoridae) as forensically important blow fly species from human cadavers in Thailand, in addition to Chrysomya villeneuvi (Patton) already known in Thailand. In 2016, a fully decomposed body of an unknown adult male was discovered in a high mountainous forest during winter in Chiang Mai province. The remains were infested heavily with thousands of blow fly larvae feeding simultaneously on them. Morphological identification of adults reared from the larvae, and molecular analysis based on sequencing of 1,247 bp partial mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 gene (CO1) of the larvae and puparia, confirmed the above mentioned 3 species. The approving forensic fly evidence by molecular approach was described for the first time in Thailand. Moreover, neighbor-joining phylogenetic analysis of the CO1 was performed to compare the relatedness of the species, thereby affirming the accuracy of identification. As species of entomofauna varies among cases in different geographic and climatic circumstances, C. pinguis and L. porphyrina were added to the list of Thai forensic entomology caseworks, including colonizers of human remains in open, high mountainous areas during winter. Further research should focus on these 3 species, for which no developmental data are currently available.
Project description:Blow flies are the first insect group to colonize on a dead body and thus correct species identification is a crucial step in forensic investigations for estimating the minimum postmortem interval, as developmental times are species-specific. Due to the difficulty of traditional morphology-based identification such as the morphological similarity of closely related species and uncovered taxonomic keys for all developmental stages, DNA-based identification has been increasing in interest, especially in high biodiversity areas such as Thailand. In this study, the effectiveness of long mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I and II (COI and COII) sequences (1247 and 635 bp, respectively) in identifying 16 species of forensically relevant blow flies in Thailand (Chrysomya bezziana, Chrysomya chani, Chrysomya megacephala, Chrysomya nigripes, Chrysomya pinguis, Chrysomya rufifacies, Chrysomya thanomthini, Chrysomya villeneuvi, Lucilia cuprina, Lucilia papuensis, Lucilia porphyrina, Lucilia sinensis, Hemipyrellia ligurriens, Hemipyrellia pulchra, Hypopygiopsis infumata, and Hypopygiopsis tumrasvini) was assessed using distance-based (Kimura two-parameter distances based on Best Match, Best Close Match, and All Species Barcodes criteria) and tree-based (grouping taxa by sequence similarity in the neighbor-joining tree) methods. Analyses of the obtained sequence data demonstrated that COI and COII genes were effective markers for accurate species identification of the Thai blow flies. This study has not only demonstrated the genetic diversity of Thai blow flies, but also provided a reliable DNA reference database for further use in forensic entomology within the country and other regions where these species exist.
Project description:Chrysomya pinguis (Walker) (Diptera: Calliphoridae) is an endemic Asiatic blow fly species of forensic importance. Chrysomya pinguis is one of the first species to colonize a corpse, especially in high altitude areas during spring and autumn when the ambient temperature is lower. Despite its potential for forensic investigations to estimate the minimum postmortem interval (PMImin), little is known about the development of C. pinguis. In this study, C. pinguis was collected from the Yangtze River Delta region of China and reared at seven constant temperatures between 16°C and 34°C to investigate the effect of temperature on development duration, accumulated degree hours and larval body length of C. pinguis. Isomorphen and isomegalen diagrams for C. pinguis were generated using the results, and equations describing the variation in larval body length during development and the temperature-induced variation in development time were also obtained. Chrysomya pinguis can complete its life cycle at 16-34°C. The mean (±s.d.) developmental durations of C. pinguis from egg to adult at 16°C, 19°C, 22°C, 25°C, 28°C, 31°C and 34°C were 811.0 ± 3.8, 544.8 ± 2.0, 379.8 ± 1.8, 306.7 ± 2.4, 250.0 ± 2.8, 203.2 ± 2.1 and 185.3 ± 1.6 h, respectively. The mean (±s.e.) developmental threshold temperature D0 and the thermal summation constant K of the whole developmental process of C. pinguis were estimated as 10.88 ± 0.21°C and 4256.50 ± 104.50 degree hours, respectively. This study provides fundamental development data for the use of C. pinguis to estimate PMImin.
Project description:Blow flies are worldwide the most important insects from a forensic point of view. In Thailand, aside from the two most common species, Chrysomya megacephala (F.) and Chrysomya rufifacies (Macquart), Chrysomya chani Kurahashi was also found to be of forensic importance. We present a case of a human female cadaver in its bloated stage of decomposition, discovered at Pachangnoi Subdistrict, northern Thailand. Entomological sampling during the autopsy displayed an assemblage of numerous dipteran larvae. Macroscopic observations showed the coexistence of third instar larvae of the three blow flies C. megacephala, Chrysomya villeneuvi Patton, an unknown blow fly species and one muscid, Hydrotaea sp. The minimum post-mortem interval was estimated to be six days, based on the developmental rate of C. megacephala. The ID of the unknown larva, which is the focus of this report, was revealed later as C. chani by DNA sequencing, using a 1205 bp of cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI). The occurrence of C. chani on a human body revealed the need to analyse and describe the morphology of its immature stage, to enable forensic entomologists to identify this fly species in future cases. The morphological examination of the third instar was performed, revealing peculiar characteristics: protuberant tubercles encircling abdominal segments; 9-11 lobes on the anterior spiracle; six prominent pairs of tubercles along the peripheral rim of the eighth abdominal segment; a heavily sclerotized complete peritreme of the posterior spiracles. A key to differentiate the third instar of blow flies of forensic importance in Thailand is provided.
Project description:Contemporary studies in forensic entomology exhaustively evaluate gene sequences because these constitute the fastest and most accurate method of species identification. For this purpose single gene segments, cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) in particular, are commonly used. However, the limitation of such sequences in identification, especially of closely related species and populations, demand a multi-gene approach. But this raises the question of which group of genes can best fulfill the identification task? In this context the utility of five gene segments was explored among blowfly species from two distinct geographic regions, China and Pakistan. COI, cytochrome b (CYTB), NADH dehydrogenase 5 (ND5), nuclear internal transcribed spacers (ITS1 and ITS2), were sequenced for eight blowfly species including Chrysomya megacephala F. (Diptera: Calliphoidae), Ch. pinguis Walker, Lucilia sericata Meigen L. porphyrina Walker, L. illustris Meigen Hemipyrellia ligurriens Wiedemann, Aldrichina grahami Aldrich, and the housefly, Musca domestica L. (Muscidae), from Hangzhou, China; while COI, CYTB, and ITS2 were sequenced for four species, i.e. Ch. megacephala, Ch. rufifacies, L. cuprina, and the flesh fly, Sarcophaga albiceps Meigen (Sarcophagidae), from Dera Ismail Khan Pakistan. The results demonstrate a universal utility of these gene segments in the molecular identification of flies of forensic importance.
Project description:Blow flies of the subfamily Luciliinae (Diptera: Calliphoridae) are one of the main forensically important subfamilies globally. In addition to being used to estimate the minimum post-mortem interval (PMI<sub>min</sub>), assuming colonization occurred after death, blow fly specimens found infesting a human corpse are used to determine if the corpse was relocated or if the individual ingested narcotics prior to death. The presence of these blow flies in a given area is strongly influenced by abiotic and biotic factors, such as temperature, elevation, and habitat. Having this information, along with geographical distributions and the characteristics of preferred habitats, is necessary to better understand the biology of this group. This study aimed to characterize the spatial distribution of Luciliinae throughout 18 sampling sites within six ecozones (disturbed mixed deciduous forest, mixed deciduous forest, mixed orchard, paddy field, lowland village, and city/town) in central Chiang Mai Province, northern Thailand over one year (May 2009?May 2010). The purpose of the study was to elucidate the relationship of blow fly species composition with environmental abiotic factors (e.g., temperature, relative humidity, light intensity), and to predict the distribution of the common species within this subfamily using GIS. Adult collections were performed biweekly, baited with one-day-old beef offal. A total of 2331 Luciliinae flies trapped, comprising eight species, of which the four predominant species were <i>Hemipyrellia ligurriens</i> (Wiedemann) (<i>n</i> = 1428; 61.3%), <i>Lucilia porphyrina</i> (Walker) (<i>n</i> = 381; 16.3%), <i>Hemipyrellia pulchra</i> (Wiedemann) (<i>n</i> = 293; 12.6%), and <i>Lucilia papuensis</i> Macquart (<i>n</i> = 129; 5.5%). Population density across species varied seasonally, peaking in August 2009 coinciding with the rainy season. Predicting population composition was based on a model developed with ArcGIS 9.2, which utilized environmental variables (temperature, relative humidity, and light intensity) in conjunction with abundance data. Models indicated <i>H. ligurriens</i> had the most widespread geographic distribution, while <i>H. pulchra</i> was predicted to occur largely in mixed orchards and lowland villages. <i>Lucilia porphyrina</i> and <i>L. papuensis</i> were less widespread, restricted mainly to mixed deciduous forest. This model, along with knowledge of forensic information, may be useful under certain investigations where the corpse may have been relocated.
Project description:Regional surveys were carried out in different parts of North West Pakistan among domestic animals (N=57,921) including pets and livestock identifying cases of traumatic myiasis (n=1037). A total of four surveys focused general livestock population during Eid ul Adha (Eid surveys; incidence=1.21%) while another four surveys (Miscellaneous surveys; incidence=7.34%) targeted animal population brought to veterinary hospitals and dispensaries. Timeframe spanned four years from 2012 to 2015. Maggots were sampled and location of the wound was recorded for each host. Taxonomic identification used light and electron microscopic techniques. Our dataset shows three species as principle agents of myiasis (n=882) including Chrysomya bezziana Villeneuve (n=394), Wohlfahrtia magnifica (n=244) and Lucilia cuprina Wiedemann (n=244). Others (n=155) including Chrysomya megacephala (Fabricius), Chrysomya rufifacies (Macquart), Lucilia sericata (Meigen), Lucilia illustris (Meigen), Lucilia porphyrina (Walker), Hemipyrellia ligguriens (Wiedemann), Calliphora vicina (Robineau-Desvoidy), Sarcophaga crassipalpalis (Macquart) and Sarcophaga species were identified as species of minor importance. The obligatory screwworm species W. magnifica is a first report from Pakistan. The results based on this dataset are presented in a recent publication "Distribution Modeling of three screwworm species in the ecologically diverse landscape of North West Pakistan" (Zaidi et al., 2016) .
Project description:<i>Chrysomya nigripes</i> (Diptera: Calliphoridae) is a blow fly species of forensic importance. Here we demonstrated the complete mitochondrial genome of this species for the first time. Phylogenetic analyses indicated that entire mitochondrial genome sequences can provide more useful information for distinguishing <i>C. nigripes</i> from the other species.
Project description:Effects of intraguild predation (IGP) on omnivores and detritivores are relatively understudied when compared to work on predator guilds. Functional genetic work in IGP is even more limited, but its application can help answer a range of questions related to ultimate and proximate causes of this behavior. Here, we integrate behavioral assays and transcriptomic analysis of facultative predation in a blow fly (Diptera: Calliphoridae) to evaluate the prevalence, effect, and correlated gene expression of facultative predation by the invasive species Chrysomya rufifacies. Field work observing donated human cadavers indicated facultative predation by C. rufifacies on the native blow fly Cochliomyia macellaria was rare under undisturbed conditions, owing in part to spatial segregation between species. Laboratory assays under conditions of starvation showed predation had a direct fitness benefit (i.e., survival) to the predator. As a genome is not available for C. rufifacies, a de novo transcriptome was developed and annotated using sequence similarity to Drosophila melanogaster. Under a variety of assembly parameters, several genes were identified as being differentially expressed between predators and nonpredators of this species, including genes involved in cell-to-cell signaling, osmotic regulation, starvation responses, and dopamine regulation. Results of this work were integrated to develop a model of the processes and genetic regulation controlling facultative predation.
Project description:To properly define ecoregions, specific criteria such as geology, climate, or species composition (e.g., the presence of endemic species) must be taken into account to understand distribution patterns and resolve ecological biogeography questions. Since the studies on insects in Baja California are scarce, and no fine-scale ecoregions based on the region's entomofauna is available, this study was designed to test whether the ecoregions based on vegetation can be used for insects, such as Calliphoridae. Nine collecting sites distributed along five ecoregions were selected, between latitudes 29.6° and 32.0°N. In each site, three baited traps were used to collect blow flies from August 2017 to June 2019 during summer, winter, and spring. A total of 30,307 individuals of blow flies distributed in six genera and 13 species were collected. The most abundant species were Cochliomyia macellaria (Fabricius), Phormia regina (Meigen), and Chrysomya rufifacies (Macquart). The composition of the Calliphoridae community was different between the localities and three general groups have been distinguished, based on the species composition similarity (ANOSIM) results: Gulf-Desert, Mountains, and Pacific-Center. The vegetation-based ecoregions only reflect the blow fly species' distributions to a certain extent, meaning that care must be taken when undertaking ecological biogeographical studies using regionalization based on organisms other than the focal taxa because vegetation does not always reflect fauna species composition.
Project description:Flies transport specific bacteria with their larvae that provide a wider range of nutrients for those bacteria. Our hypothesis was that this symbiotic interaction may depend on interkingdom signaling. We obtained Proteus mirabilis from the salivary glands of the blow fly Lucilia sericata; this strain swarmed significantly and produced a strong odor that attracts blow flies. To identify the putative interkingdom signals for the bacterium and flies, we reasoned that as swarming is used by this bacterium to cover the food resource and requires bacterial signaling, the same bacterial signals used for swarming may be used to communicate with blow flies. Using transposon mutagenesis, we identified six novel genes for swarming (ureR, fis, hybG, zapB, fadE and PROSTU_03490), then, confirming our hypothesis, we discovered that fly attractants, lactic acid, phenol, NaOH, KOH and ammonia, restore swarming for cells with the swarming mutations. Hence, compounds produced by the bacterium that attract flies also are utilized for swarming. In addition, bacteria with the swarming mutation rfaL attracted fewer blow flies and reduced the number of eggs laid by the flies. Therefore, we have identified several interkingdom signals between P. mirabilis and blow flies.