International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 125, Issue 1, pp 27–32 | Cite as

DNA-based identification of forensically important Australian Sarcophagidae (Diptera)

  • Kelly A. MeiklejohnEmail author
  • James F. Wallman
  • Mark Dowton
Original Article


The utility of the forensically important Sarcophagidae (Diptera) for time since death estimates has been severely limited, as morphological identification is difficult and thermobiological histories are inadequately documented. A molecular identification method involving the sequencing of a 658-bp ‘barcode’ fragment of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) gene from 85 specimens, representing 16 Australian species from varying populations, was evaluated. Nucleotide sequence divergences were calculated using the Kimura-two-parameter distance model and a neighbour-joining phylogenetic tree generated. All species were resolved as reciprocally monophyletic, except Sarcophaga dux. Intraspecific and interspecific variation ranged from 0.000% to 1.499% (SE = 0.044%) and 6.658% to 8.983% (SE = 0.653%), respectively. The COI ‘barcode’ sequence was found to be suitable for the molecular identification of the studied Australian Sarcophagidae: 96.5% of the examined specimens were assigned to the correct species. Given that the sarcophagid fauna is poorly described, it is feasible that the few incorrectly assigned specimens represent cryptic species. The results of this research will be instrumental for implementation of the Australian Sarcophagidae in forensic entomology.


Sarcophagidae Diptera Forensic entomology COI DNA ‘barcoding’ Identification 



We would like to acknowledge Melanie Archer, Kelly George, Steve and Ruth McKillup and Lisa Mingari for providing specimens. We are grateful to the Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS) for their financial support.

Supplementary material

414_2009_395_MOESM1_ESM.doc (156 kb)
Table 1 (DOC 159 kb)
414_2009_395_MOESM2_ESM.doc (38 kb)
Table 2 (DOC 39 kb)
414_2009_395_MOESM3_ESM.doc (30 kb)
Table 3 (DOC 31 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kelly A. Meiklejohn
    • 1
    Email author
  • James F. Wallman
    • 1
  • Mark Dowton
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Conservation Biology and Environment Management, School of Biological SciencesUniversity of WollongongNSW 2522Australia
  2. 2.Centre for Medical Bioscience, School of Biological SciencesUniversity of WollongongNSW 2522Australia

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