Temperature-dependent development of the blow fly Chrysomya pinguis and its significance in estimating postmortem interval.
ABSTRACT: 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 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:Identifying species of insects used to estimate postmortem interval (PMI) is a major subject in forensic entomology. Because forensic insect specimens are morphologically uniform and are obtained at various developmental stages, DNA markers are greatly needed. To develop new autosomal DNA markers to identify species, partial genomic sequences of the bicoid (bcd) genes, containing the homeobox and its flanking sequences, from 12 blowfly species (Aldrichina grahami, Calliphora vicina, Calliphora lata, Triceratopyga calliphoroides, Chrysomya megacephala, Chrysomya pinguis, Phormia regina, Lucilia ampullacea, Lucilia caesar, Lucilia illustris, Hemipyrellia ligurriens and Lucilia sericata; Calliphoridae: Diptera) were determined and analyzed. This study first sequenced the ten blowfly species other than C. vicina and L. sericata. Based on the bcd sequences of these 12 blowfly species, a phylogenetic tree was constructed that discriminates the subfamilies of Calliphoridae (Luciliinae, Chrysomyinae, and Calliphorinae) and most blowfly species. Even partial genomic sequences of about 500 bp can distinguish most blowfly species. The short intron 2 and coding sequences downstream of the bcd homeobox in exon 3 could be utilized to develop DNA markers for forensic applications. These gene sequences are important in the evolution of insect developmental biology and are potentially useful for identifying insect species in forensic science.
Project description:Necrophagous fly species are commonly used as forensic tools to estimate the minimum postmortem interval (PMImin). Many researchers raised necrophagous flies under constant temperature regimes to collect their developmental data. However, in most forensic cases, the ambient temperature fluctuates. In order to investigate a forensically important fly developmental mode (the Isomegalen diagram, Isomorphen diagram and Thermal summation models) and make comparisons of the developmental rate between constant temperatures and fluctuating temperatures, we used Aldrichina grahami (Diptera: Calliphoridae) to investigate the life history parameters at eight constant temperatures ranging from 8 to 36 °C. We also compared developmental rate of A. grahami in three groups of constant versus fluctuating temperatures: 8 °C vs. 6-12 °C, 12 °C vs. 10-16 °C, and 16 °C vs. 14-20 °C. Our data showed that A. grahami is cold tolerant with a mean (±SE) development threshold temperature (D0) of 3.41 ± 0.48 °C and a thermal summation constant (K) of 8125.2 ± 288.4-degree hours. The three groups subjected to fluctuating temperatures took longer to develop compared to those developing in constant temperatures when simulated in a model. These results not only provide detailed developmental data for the use of A. grahami in the estimation of the PMI, but also indicate that ambient temperature fluctuation must be taken into consideration for the use of all necrophagous fly species.
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 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:Estimation of postmortem interval (PMI) is paramount in modern forensic investigation. After the disappearance of the early postmortem phenomena conventionally used to estimate PMI, entomologic evidence provides important indicators for PMI estimation. The age of the oldest fly larvae or pupae can be estimated to pinpoint the time of oviposition, which is considered the minimum PMI (PMImin). The development rate of insects is usually temperature dependent and species specific. Therefore, species identification is mandatory for PMImin estimation using entomological evidence. The classical morphological identification method cannot be applied when specimens are damaged or have not yet matured. To overcome this limitation, some investigators employ molecular identification using mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) nucleotide sequences. The molecular identification method commonly uses Sanger's nucleotide sequencing and molecular phylogeny, which are complex and time consuming and constitute another obstacle for forensic investigators. In this study, instead of using conventional Sanger's nucleotide sequencing, single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the COI gene region, which are unique between fly species, were selected and targeted for single-base extension (SBE) technology. These SNPs were genotyped using a SNaPshot® kit. Eleven Calliphoridae and seven Sarcophagidae species were covered. To validate this genotyping, fly DNA samples (103 adults, 84 larvae, and 4 pupae) previously confirmed by DNA barcoding were used. This method worked quickly with minimal DNA, providing a potential alternative to conventional DNA barcoding. Consisting of only a few simple electropherogram peaks, the results were more straightforward compared with those of the conventional DNA barcoding produced by Sanger's nucleotide sequencing.
Project description:Background:The time-length between the first colonization of necrophagous insect on the corpse and the beginning of investigation represents the most important forensic concept of minimum post-mortem inference (PMImin). Before colonization, the time spent by an insect to detect and locate a corpse could significantly influence the PMImin estimation. The olfactory system plays an important role in insect food foraging behavior. Proteins like odorant binding proteins (OBPs), chemosensory proteins (CSPs), odorant receptors (ORs), ionotropic receptors (IRs) and sensory neuron membrane proteins (SNMPs) represent the most important parts of this system. Exploration of the above genes and their necrophagous products should facilitate not only the understanding of their roles in forging but also their influence on the period before PMImin. Transcriptome sequencing has been wildly utilized to reveal the expression of particular genes under different temporal and spatial condition in a high throughput way. In this study, transcriptomic study was implemented on antennae of adult Aldrichina grahami (Aldrich) (Diptera: Calliphoridae), a necrophagous insect with forensic significance, to reveal the composition and expression feature of OBPs, CSPs, ORs, IRs and SNMPs genes at transcriptome level. Method:Antennae transcriptome sequencing of A. grahami was performed using next-generation deep sequencing on the platform of BGISEQ-500. The raw data were deposited into NCBI (PRJNA513084). All the transcripts were functionally annotated using Gene Ontology (GO) and the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) database. Differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were analyzed between female and male antennae. The transcripts of OBPs, CSPs, ORs, IRs and SNMPs were identified based on sequence feature. Phylogenetic development of olfactory genes of A. grahami with other species was analyzed using MEGA 5.0. RT-qPCR was utilized to verify gene expression generated from the transcriptome sequencing. Results:In total, 14,193 genes were annotated in the antennae transcriptome based on the GO and the KEGG databases. We found that 740 DEGs were differently expressed between female and male antennae. Among those, 195 transcripts were annotated as candidate olfactory genes then checked by sequence feature. Of these, 27 OBPs, one CSPs, 49 ORs, six IRs and two SNMPs were finally identified in antennae of A. grahami. Phylogenetic development suggested that some olfactory genes may play a role in food forging, perception of pheromone and decomposing odors. Conclusion:Overall, our results suggest the existence of gender and spatial expression differences in olfactory genes from antennae of A. grahami. Such differences are likely to greatly influence insect behavior around a corpse. In addition, candidate olfactory genes with predicted function provide valuable information for further studies of the molecular mechanisms of olfactory detection of forensically important fly species and thus deepen our understanding of the period before PMImin.
Project description:Entomological protocols for aging blowfly (Diptera: Calliphoridae) larvae to estimate the time of colonization (TOC) are commonly used to assist in death investigations. While the methodologies for analyzing fly larvae differ, most rely on light microscopy, genetic analysis, or, more rarely, electron microscopy. This pilot study sought to improve resolution of larval stage in the forensically important blowfly Chrysomya rufifacies using high-content fluorescence microscopy and biochemical measures of developmental marker proteins. We established fixation and mounting protocols, defined a set of measurable morphometric criteria and captured developmental transitions of 2nd instar to 3rd instar using both fluorescence microscopy and anti-ecdysone receptor Western blot analysis. The data show that these instars can be distinguished on the basis of robust, nonbleaching, autofluorescence of larval posterior spiracles. High-content imaging techniques using confocal microscopy, combined with morphometric and biochemical techniques, may therefore aid forensic entomologists in estimating TOC.