Decaying Mouse Volatiles Perceived by Calliphora vicina Rob.-Desv.


  • Presented in part at the 7th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Forensic Entomology, June 9–12, 2009, in Uppsala, Sweden.

  • Support provided by the Cusanuswerk, Bischöfliche Studienstiftung, Germany.

Additional information and reprint requests:

Sebastian Paczkowski, M.Sc.

Department of Forest Zoology and Forest Conservation

Büsgeninstitut, Georg-August-University





Volatiles emitted by decaying human remains are in the focus of recent research. The identification of core volatiles in this field is of high importance, because cadaveric volatiles generally show high variation. In this study, the volatile profiles of five mice (Myodes glareolus) were sampled with charcoal filter tubes from their time of death until advanced decay. Eleven compounds were quantitated by means of gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. Electroantennographic experiments with female Calliphora vicina antennae led to the identification of dimethyl trisulfide, dimethyl disulfide, nonanal, hexan-1-ol, 1-octen-3-ol, 3-methylbutan-1-ol, and heptanal as electrophysiologically active compounds. When these were compared, dimethyl trisulfide (17 ng/μL) and dimethyl disulfide (11 ng/μL) were found to be emitted in higher concentrations. The roles of these compounds and nonanal as core volatiles for cadaver detection or postmortem time determination and their correlation to the stages of decay and the accumulated degree days are discussed.