Forensic entomology in the Philippines: Establishing Baseline Data on the Forensically Important Blow Fly Species Chrysomya megacephala (Fabricius, 1794)
Ronniel D.C. Pedales1,2,* and Ian Kendrich C. Fontanilla2
1Natural Sciences Research Institute, College of Science
University of the Philippines Diliman, Diliman, Quezon City 1101
2DNA Barcoding Laboratory, Institute of Biology, College of Science
University of the Philippines Diliman, Diliman, Quezon City 1101
The Philippines is yet to adapt and implement guidelines and protocols in forensic entomology, particularly establishing local databases. Considering the efforts made by neighboring Southeast Asian countries in the field, the nation has been left behind in insect evidence-based investigations. Of utmost importance to forensic entomology are blow flies (Diptera: Calliphoridae), which are primary colonizers of carrion. Through knowledge of their distribution, identity, and growth rates, investigators are able to provide a post-mortem interval that is most accurate after the onset of putrefaction. The Philippines has a total of 83 blow fly species recorded, including the cosmopolitan species Chrysomya megacephala. This paper aims to establish a baseline reference in Philippine forensic entomology by mapping the distribution, providing DNA barcodes, and estimating larval growth rates from oviposition to pupariation of C. megacephala. Distribution data were mapped in QGIS using localities from fieldwork data in this study and those in the Key to the Philippine Calliphoridae by Kurahashi and Magpayo. DNA barcodes of specimens from Isabela, Quezon City, and Marinduque in the Philippines matched with C. megacephala from the database in GenBank and revealed a possible SNP in the fragment amplified. C. megacephala was reared from oviposition in a simple incubation set-up to estimate the duration of development to pupariation, which ranged 100-113 hours. This is the first study on the distribution, molecular identification, and development of C. megacephala in the Philippines. Further work is needed to distinguish among populations of the species and to construct more precise growth curves.
Key words: Chrysomya megacephala, DNA barcoding, forensic entomology
The oriental latrine fly, Chrysomya megacephala (Fabricius, 1794), is a forensically important species of blow fly (Diptera: Calliphoridae) (Wells & Sperling 2001). It is native to the Australasian and Pacific regions but is now distributed worldwide due to species introduction and its inherent invasive nature (Wells 1991; Williams & Villet 2006; Vasconcelos & Salgado 2014; Carmo & Vasconcelos 2014). The species can be found around and on rotting animals or fruits, often in large groups, where they consume organic material for food and proteins for egg production (Linhares & Avancini 1989). They are characteristically large – ranging 7.5-10 mm long – with a setulose stem vein on the dorsal side of the basal section of their wings. They can be easily distinguished from other Philippine Chrysomyinae for having an orange gena clothed with yellow hairs and large eyes that are almost touching in males (Figure 1) (Kurahashi & Magpayo 2000). . . . . read more
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