Volume 47, Issue 6 (November 2002)
Mitochondrial DNA Sequencing of Beetle Larvae (Nitidulidae: Omosita) Recovered From Human Bone
The isolation, amplification, and characterization of human DNA from hematophagous (blood feeding) and necrophagous (carrion feeding) arthropods have been advanced significantly by the development of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) DNA sequencing methodologies. Historically, DNA technology has been successfully utilized to identify individual hosts upon which species of hematophagous arthropods have fed. The analysis of hematophagous insects' gut content blood meals has led to major advances in medical entomology and vector-borne disease epidemiology. In the forensic arena, the ability to apply similar techniques to insects recovered from badly decomposed remains has been greatly enhanced through the advent of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) techniques. Mitochondrial DNA analyses have been utilized to identify both the human remains upon which fly larvae (maggots) have fed and the species of the larvae themselves. The preliminary work detailed here demonstrates, for the first time, the successful application of mtDNA sequencing techniques to the analysis of necrophagous beetle larvae. A small sample of sap beetle larvae, Omosita spp. (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae), was collected from human skeletal remains during anthropological examination and analyzed for human DNA using mtDNA sequencing. The beetle larvae yielded mtDNA matching that of the host human bone. The results detailed here further demonstrate the robust nature of human mtDNA and the ability to recover valuable mtDNA evidence from forensically important, late decompositional stage insect species.