U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Development of DNA-Based Identification Techniques for Forensic Entomology; Phase 2, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
23 pages
Publication Series

This research developed a mitochondrial DNA database suitable for identifying forensically important fly species in any life stage, information that can be important in improving the accuracy of time-of-death estimations based on the age of a maggot collected from the corpse.


Currently, the research has collected data from 48 species, including the insect species obtained as evidence in the vast majority of death investigation in the United State and Canada. These data have or soon will be deposited in the GenBank WWW database maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/), where they can be retrieved through the Internet. The first section of this report explains how this ever-expanding database can be used in determining time of death in investigations. The report then describes the procedure used in the research to obtain specimens from as many geographical locations as possible in an effort to capture a wide range of haplotype diversity. This is followed by a description of research efforts to find a more polymorphic locus than COI+II. This is an effort to identify a more discriminating measure of population structure and a more discriminating measure for kinship analysis. This research is ongoing. The research has also involved a plan to evaluate the technique of a restriction digest of PCR product (PCR-RFLP) as an inexpensive alternative to cycle sequencing for specimen identification. Although the technique developed is apparently reliable, confirmation of the identifications is not yet complete. Another focus of the research was the obtaining of vertebrate genotype from maggot gut contents. Such an analysis could be useful when maggots are found in the absence of a corpse. If the DNA of a human could be found in maggot gut contents, then it might be concluded that the maggots were feeding on a corpse whose identity could be determined from the maggots' gut contents. This work is ongoing. A list of published material that presents research data and techniques and a listing of scientific conferences at which research results were presented

Date Published: January 1, 2002