Chrysomya chani Kurahashi (Diptera: Calliphoridae), a blow fly species of forensic importance: morphological characters of the third larval instar and a case report from Thailand.
ABSTRACT: 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: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: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:Stable reference genes are essential for accurate normalization in gene expression studies with reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). A synanthropic fly, Chrysomya megacephala, is a well known medical vector and forensic indicator. Unfortunately, previous studies did not look at the stability of reference genes used in C. megacephala.In this study, the expression level of Actin, ribosomal protein L8 (Rpl8), glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), elongation factor 1α (EF1), α-tubulin (α-TUB), β-tubulin (β-TUB), TATA binding box (TBP), 18S rRNA (18S) and ribosomal protein S7 (Rps7) were evaluated for their stability using online software RefFinder, which combines the normal software of the ΔCt method, BestKeeper, Normfinder, and geNorm. Moreover the number of suitable reference gene pairs was also suggested by Excel-based geNorm. The expression levels of these reference genes were evaluated under different experimental conditions with special perspectives of forensic applications: developmental stages (eggs, first, second and third instar larvae, pupae and adults); food sources of larvae (pork, fish and chicken); feeding larvae with drugs (untreated control, Estazolam and Marvelon); feeding larvae with heavy metals (untreated control, cadmium and zinc); tissues of adults (head, thorax, abdomen, legs and wings). According to RefFinder, EF1 was the most suitable reference gene of developmental stages, food and tissues; 18S and GAPDH were the most suitable reference genes for drugs and heavy metals, respectively, which could be widely used for quantification of target gene expression with qPCR in C. megacephala. Suitable reference gene pairs were also suggested by geNorm.This fundamental but vital work should facilitate the gene studies of related biological processes and deepen the understanding in physiology, toxicology, and especially medical and forensic entomology of C. megacephala.
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:<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:Minimum post-mortem interval (minPMI) estimates often rely on the use of developmental data from blow flies (Diptera: Calliphoridae), which are generally the first colonisers of cadavers and, therefore, exemplar forensic indicators. Developmental data of the intra-puparial period are of particular importance, as it can account for more than half of the developmental duration of the blow fly life cycle. During this period, the insect undergoes metamorphosis inside the opaque, barrel-shaped puparium, formed by the hardening and darkening of the third instar larval cuticle, which shows virtually no external changes until adult emergence. Regrettably, estimates based on the intra-puparial period are severely limited due to the lack of reliable, non-destructive ageing methods and are frequently based solely on qualitative developmental markers. In this study, we use non-destructive micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) for (i) performing qualitative and quantitative analyses of the morphological changes taking place during the intra-puparial period of two forensically relevant blow fly species, Calliphora vicina and Lucilia sericata, and (ii) developing a novel and reliable method for estimating insect age in forensic practice. We show that micro-CT provides age-diagnostic qualitative characters for most 10% time intervals of the total intra-puparial period, which can be used over a range of temperatures and with a resolution comparable to more invasive and time-consuming traditional imaging techniques. Moreover, micro-CT can be used to yield a quantitative measure of the development of selected organ systems to be used in combination with qualitative markers. Our results confirm micro-CT as an emerging, powerful tool in medico-legal investigations.
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 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 (PMImin), 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 Hemipyrellia ligurriens (Wiedemann) (n = 1428; 61.3%), Lucilia porphyrina (Walker) (n = 381; 16.3%), Hemipyrellia pulchra (Wiedemann) (n = 293; 12.6%), and Lucilia papuensis Macquart (n = 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 H. ligurriens had the most widespread geographic distribution, while H. pulchra was predicted to occur largely in mixed orchards and lowland villages. Lucilia porphyrina and L. papuensis 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:Blow flies (Diptera: Calliphoridae) are important medical, veterinary and forensic insects encompassing 8 % of the species diversity observed in the calyptrate insects. Few genomic resources exist to understand the diversity and evolution of this group.We present the hybrid (short and long reads) draft assemblies of the male and female genomes of the common North American blow fly, Phormia regina (Diptera: Calliphoridae). The 550 and 534 Mb draft assemblies contained 8312 and 9490 predicted genes in the female and male genomes, respectively; including?>?93 % conserved eukaryotic genes. Putative X and Y chromosomes (21 and 14 Mb, respectively) were assembled and annotated. The P. regina genomes appear to contain few mobile genetic elements, an almost complete absence of SINEs, and most of the repetitive landscape consists of simple repetitive sequences. Candidate gene approaches were undertaken to annotate insecticide resistance, sex-determining, chemoreceptors, and antimicrobial peptides.This work yielded a robust, reliable reference calliphorid genome from a species located in the middle of a calliphorid phylogeny. By adding an additional blow fly genome, the ability to tease apart what might be true of general calliphorids vs. what is specific of two distinct lineages now exists. This resource will provide a strong foundation for future studies into the evolution, population structure, behavior, and physiology of all blow flies.
Project description:Determining the age of juvenile blow flies is one of the key tasks of forensic entomology when providing evidence for the minimum post mortem interval. While the age determination of blow fly larvae is well established using morphological parameters, the current study focuses on molecular methods for estimating the age of blow flies during the metamorphosis in the pupal stage, which lasts about half the total juvenile development. It has already been demonstrated in several studies that the intraspecific variance in expression of so far used genes in blow flies is often too high to assign a certain expression level to a distinct age, leading to an inaccurate prediction. To overcome this problem, we previously identified new markers, which show a very sharp age dependent expression course during pupal development of the forensically-important blow fly Calliphora vicina Robineau-Desvoidy 1830 (Diptera: Calliphoridae) by analyzing massive parallel sequencing (MPS) generated transcriptome data. We initially designed and validated two quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assays for each of 15 defined pupal ages representing a daily progress during the total pupal development if grown at 17 °C. We also investigated whether the performance of these assays is affected by the ambient temperature, when rearing pupae of C. vicina at three different constant temperatures-namely 17 °C, 20 °C and 25 °C. A temperature dependency of the performance could not be observed, except for one marker. Hence, for each of the defined development landmarks, we can present gene expression profiles of one to two markers defining the mentioned progress in development.