Identification of forensically important Chrysomya (Diptera: Calliphoridae) species using the second ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS2)

  • Nelson L
  • Wallman J
  • Dowton M
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The identification of forensically important blowflies of the genus Chrysomya (Diptera: Calliphoridae) may be hampered by their close morphological similarities, especially as immatures. In contrast to most previous studies, the utility of a nuclear rather than mitochondrial genetic marker was investigated to solve this problem. The second internal transcribed spacer (ITS2) of ribosomal DNA (rDNA) was amplified and sequenced from all nine Chrysomya species known from Australia. Difficulties encountered with direct sequencing of ITS2 for Chrysomya flavifrons necessitated cloning prior to sequencing for this species, which revealed a low level (0-0.23%) of intraindividual variation. Five restriction enzymes (DraI, BsaXI, BciVI, AseI and HinfI) were identified that were able to differentiate most members of the genus by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP). The PCR-RFLP analysis revealed characteristic restriction profiles for all species except the closely related species pairs Chrysomya latifrons + Chrysomya semimetallica and Chrysomya incisuralis + Chrysomya rufifacies. Ch. incisuralis and Ch. rufifacies were able to be separated using the size differences resulting from amplification of the entire ITS region. The lack of intraspecific ITS2 sequence variation among eight Ch. incisuralis specimens was verified by the identical restriction profiles generated from these specimens. A DNA-based approach, such as PCR-RFLP, has the capacity to be useful for the identification of forensic entomological evidence in cases where morphological characters are unreliable. Crown Copyright © 2008.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Chrysomya
  • Forensic entomology
  • ITS regions
  • Species determination

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  • Leigh A. Nelson

  • James F. Wallman

  • Mark Dowton

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