Invertebrate Systematics Invertebrate Systematics Society
Systematics, phylogeny and biogeography
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Comprehensive evaluation of DNA barcoding for the molecular species identification of forensically important Australian Sarcophagidae (Diptera)

Kelly A. Meiklejohn A D , James F. Wallman A , Stephen L. Cameron B and Mark Dowton C

A Institute for Conservation Biology and Environmental Management, School of Biological Sciences, University of Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia.

B Biogeosciences Discipline, Faculty of Science & Technology, Queensland University of Technology, Qld 4001, Australia.

C Centre for Medical Bioscience, School of Biological Sciences, University of Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: km988@uowmail.edu.au

Invertebrate Systematics 26(6) 515-525 https://doi.org/10.1071/IS12008
Submitted: 8 February 2012  Accepted: 13 September 2012   Published: 19 December 2012

Abstract

Carrion-breeding Sarcophagidae (Diptera) can be used to estimate the post-mortem interval in forensic cases. Difficulties with accurate morphological identifications at any life stage and a lack of documented thermobiological profiles have limited their current usefulness. The molecular-based approach of DNA barcoding, which utilises a 648-bp fragment of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I gene, was evaluated in a pilot study for discrimination between 16 Australian sarcophagids. The current study comprehensively evaluated barcoding for a larger taxon set of 588 Australian sarcophagids. In total, 39 of the 84 known Australian species were represented by 580 specimens, which includes 92% of potentially forensically important species. A further eight specimens could not be identified, but were included nonetheless as six unidentifiable taxa. A neighbour-joining tree was generated and nucleotide sequence divergences were calculated. All species except Sarcophaga (Fergusonimyia) bancroftorum, known for high morphological variability, were resolved as monophyletic (99.2% of cases), with bootstrap support of 100. Excluding S. bancroftorum, the mean intraspecific and interspecific variation ranged from 1.12% and 2.81–11.23%, respectively, allowing for species discrimination. DNA barcoding was therefore validated as a suitable method for molecular identification of Australian Sarcophagidae, which will aid in the implementation of this fauna in forensic entomology.

Additional keywords: COI, forensic entomology.


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