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: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.
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: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.