Identification of Blowfly Species Using PCR

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Beth Scaglione-Sewell


Arts and Sciences



Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-3-2018


Forensic entomology is the use of insects in the criminal justice system. Blow flies (Diptera: Calliphoridae) are usually the first insects to arrive and oviposit (lay eggs) on carrion. Their early arrival makes the timing of blow fly oviposition critical for postmortem interval (PMI) calculations. To identify the exact species of blowfly from an egg mass or maggot, the specimen needs to be grown up through its life cycle for two weeks until it reaches its adult blowfly stage. Using egg masses that could be collected immediately, our goal was to shorten the identification process by analyzing the species differences in the cytochrome oxidase 1 (COX1) gene of the six most commonly found blowflies in the Northwest Indiana region. DNA was isolated from egg masses collected by the lab of Dr. Kristi Bugajski of Valparaiso University, and species were identified by sequencing of the DNA product. The goal of this investigation is to develop a protocol that could be done in a classroom setting, which would eliminate the need for sequencing as sequencing is expensive and not readily available on site. To accomplish this, six PCR primers have been developed that are specific to the six most common blowfly species in the area. After amplifying the isolated DNA with the six species specific PCR primers, agarose gel electrophoresis will be used to identify which species the DNA came from based on what primer amplified its DNA. If successful, the protocol will be published for use in a classroom setting.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Nathan McChesney is a senior at Valparaiso University studying Biology and Music Performance. After graduation, he intends to attend graduate school in order to obtain a Masters degree in molecular Biology. His aspirations are to one day be aiding research in human diseases.

Kayla Currier is a Senior biology major at Valparaiso University. After graduation she plans to attend medical school, and one day hopes to specialize in orthopedic medicine.

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