Volume 39, Issue 2 (March 1994)
A DNA-Based Approach to the Identification of Insect Species Used for Postmorten Interval Estimation
Insect larvae found on a corpse can be used for estimating postmortem intervals. Here, we describe a molecular method for rapid identification of these insects. Specific insect DNA fragments were amplified using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), followed by direct DNA sequencing of the amplification products. We sequenced 2300 base pairs of mitochondrial DNA from each of three blowfly species: Phormia regina, Phaenicia sericata and Lucilia illustris. All three species are important in forensic entomology. We found 118 nucleotide differences between the L. illustris and P. sericata sequences, 186 between L. illustris and P. regina, and 192 between P. sericata and P. regina. Based on these abundant DNA sequence differences, we can unambiguously identify the immature larval stages of these insects. These DNA sequence differences were also used to predict species-specific, diagnostic restriction sites in the amplified DNA, and these predictions were verified by digestion with nine restriction enzymes. The DNA sequences reported here encode the mitochondrial COI, COII and tRNA-leucine genes.