Potential Use of Hydrocarbons for Aging Lucilia sericata Blowfly Larvae to Establish the Postmortem Interval


  • Funded by ACORN from Keele University.

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Hannah Elizabeth Moore, B.Sc.

Lennard Jones Laboratory

Keele University

Keele, Staffordshire ST5 5BG


E-mail: h.e.moore@keele.ac.uk


Previous studies on Diptera have shown the potential for the use of cuticular hydrocarbons' analysis in the determination of larval age and hence the postmortem interval (PMI) for an associated cadaver. In this work, hydrocarbon compounds, extracted daily until pupation from the cuticle of the blowfly Lucilia sericata (Diptera: Calliphoridae), have been analyzed using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS). The results show distinguishing features within the hydrocarbon profile over the period of the larvae life cycle, with significant chemical changes occurring from the younger larvae to the postfeeding larvae. Further interpretation of the chromatograms using principal component analysis revealed a strong correlation between the magnitudes of particular principal components and time. This outcome suggests that, under the conditions of this study, the cuticular hydrocarbons evolve in a systematic fashion with time, thus supporting the potential for GC–MS analysis as a tool for establishing PMI where such a species is present.