Volume 47, Issue 5 (September 2002)
Surface Sterilization of a Maggot Using Bleach Does Not Interfere with Mitochondrial DNA Analysis of Crop Contents
Mitochondrial DNA analysis of a maggot crop can identify the corpse a maggot has been feeding on. Analysis of the crop could be useful in a criminal investigation if maggots are found at a suspected crime scene in the absence of a body, or if there is a question of whether a maggot used in postmortem interval estimations moved onto the corpse from another food source. Such analysis can also resolve a chain of custody dispute if it has been suggested that larval samples have been switched. When recovering DNA from a maggot crop, the analyst must be careful to avoid external contamination. We investigated the effects of three simple wash methods developed to reduce external contamination. Maggots raised on pig liver and intentionally contaminated with cow blood were washed using water, 20% bleach, or a solution containing the enzyme DNase. Only washing the maggots in 20% bleach reduced the amount of vertebrate DNA amplified from the maggots' exteriors. No wash method affected the ability to recover DNA from the maggot crops.