Identification of Human Remains by DNA Analysis of the Gastrointestinal Contents of Fly Larvae

Authors

  • María de Lourdes Chávez-Briones M.D.,

    1. Departamento de Patología, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Monterrey, Nuevo León, México
    2. Laboratorio de Genética Forense, Dirección de Criminalística y Servicios Periciales, Agencia Estatal de Investigaciones, Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado de Nuevo León, Monterrey, Nuevo León, México
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  • Raquel Hernández-Cortés B.S.,

    1. Laboratorio de Genética Forense, Dirección de Criminalística y Servicios Periciales, Agencia Estatal de Investigaciones, Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado de Nuevo León, Monterrey, Nuevo León, México
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  • Porfirio Díaz-Torres B.S.,

    1. Laboratorio de Genética Forense, Dirección de Criminalística y Servicios Periciales, Agencia Estatal de Investigaciones, Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado de Nuevo León, Monterrey, Nuevo León, México
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  • Alberto Niderhauser-García M.D.,

    1. Departamento de Patología, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Monterrey, Nuevo León, México
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  • Jesús Ancer-Rodríguez M.D.,

    1. Departamento de Patología, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Monterrey, Nuevo León, México
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  • Gilberto Jaramillo-Rangel Ph.D.,

    1. Departamento de Patología, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Monterrey, Nuevo León, México
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  • Marta Ortega-Martínez Ph.D.

    Corresponding author
    • Departamento de Patología, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Monterrey, Nuevo León, México
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Additional information and reprint requests:

Marta Ortega-Martínez, Ph.D.

Departamento de Patología, Facultad de Medicina

Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León

Ave. Madero y Dr. Aguirre Pequeño, Colonia Mitras Centro

Monterrey, Nuevo León

México CP 64460

E-mail: martha.ortegam@uanl.mx

Abstract

Dipterous fly larvae (maggots) are frequently collected from a corpse during a criminal investigation. Previous studies showed that DNA analysis of the gastrointestinal contents of maggots might be used to reveal the identity of a victim. However, this approach has not been used to date in legal investigations, and thus its practical usefulness is unknown. A badly burned body was discovered with its face and neck colonized by fly larvae. Given the condition of the body, identification was not possible. Short tandem repeat (STR) typing was performed using the gastrointestinal contents of maggots collected from the victim and was compared to STR profiles obtained from the alleged father. The probability of paternity was 99.685%. Thus, this comparative DNA test enabled the conclusive identification of the remains. This is the first reported case of analysis of human DNA isolated from the gastrointestinal tract of maggots used to identify a victim in a criminal case.

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