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Keywords:

  • forensic science;
  • forensic entomology;
  • Calliphoridae;
  • Lucilia sericata ;
  • cuticular hydrocarbons;
  • gas chromatography–mass spectrometry;
  • principal component analysis;
  • postmortem interval

Abstract

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.