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Paraphyly in Hawaiian Hybrid Blowfly Populations and the Evolutionary History of Anthropophilic Species

NCJ Number
Insect Molecular Biology Volume: 11 Issue: 2 Dated: 2002 Pages: 141-148
Date Published
8 pages

This article describes the methodology and findings of a project that sequenced complementary nuclear (28S rRNA) and mitochondrial (COl + ll) from the blowflies, Lucilia cuprina and Lucilia sericata, from Europe, Africa, North America, Australasia, and Hawaii.


Blowfly genotypes are important to forensic scientists in using DNA to identify larvae collected from a corpse. Experimental development data are commonly used to estimate the age of an insect specimen and therefore the minimum time since the death of a victim. Previous studies of evolutionary relationships between and within these two blowfly species have characterized them by morphology, random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis, and short stretches of 12 S mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence. Although the results mainly confirmed the global species integrity of L. sericata and L. cuprina, genetic analysis of L. cuprina morphotypes from the Hawaiian island of Oahua indicated a possibly hybrid population of blowflies (Stevens & Wall, 1996). The current study evaluated the genetic status of populations of L. cuprina from Hawaii in relation to other populations collected worldwide and to assess the possibility that hybridization of Lucilia species has occurred in the Hawaiian islands. In addition, the study examined the reasons and implications for such a discordant pattern. The study determined that populations of the two species were phylogenetically distinct at both genes, with one exception. Hawaiian L. cuprina possessed typical L. cuprina-type rRNA, but had L. sericata-type mitochondrial (COl +ll) sequences. The authors suppose that a female L. sericata and a male L. cuprina crossed to produce an F1 generation with L. sericata mtDNA, a mix of nuclear DNA, and likely an L. cuprina phenotype. If hybridization has occurred, however, it happened sufficiently long ago that all detectable traces within the nuclear genome have been over-written. 3 tables, 2 figures, and 44 references

Date Published: January 1, 2002