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Optimization of total vaporization solid-phase microextraction (TV-SPME) for the determination of lipid profiles of Phormia regina, a forensically important blow fly species


A new method has been developed for the determination of fatty acids, sterols, and other lipids which naturally occur within pupae of the blow fly Phormia regina. The method relies upon liquid extraction in non-polar solvent, followed by derivatization using N,O-bis(trimethylsilyl)trifluoroacetamide (BSTFA) w/ 1% trimethylchlorsilane (TMCS) carried out inside the sample vial. The analysis is facilitated by total vaporization solid-phase microextraction (TV-SPME), with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) serving as the instrumentation for analysis. The TV-SPME delivery technique is approximately a factor of five more sensitive than traditional liquid injection, which may alleviate the need for rotary evaporation, reconstitution, collection of high performance liquid chromatography fractions, and many of the other pre-concentration steps that are commonplace in the current literature. Furthermore, the ability to derivatize the liquid extract in a single easy step while increasing sensitivity represents an improvement over current derivatization methods. The most common lipids identified in fly pupae were various saturated and unsaturated fatty acids ranging from lauric acid (12:0) to arachinoic acid (20:4), as well as cholesterol. The concentrations of myristic acid (14:0), palmitelaidic acid (16:2), and palmitoleic acid (16:1) were the most reliable indicators of the age of the pupae.

Blow fly pupae were extracted prior to emerging as adults. The extracts were analyzed via total vaporization solid-phase microextraction (TV-SPME), revealing a complex mixture of lipids that could be associated with the age of the insect. This information may assist in determining a post-mortum interval (PMI) in a death investigation

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The authors acknowledge the American Chemical Society Project SEED program for financial support of Mr. Dixon. This work was made possible by the National Institute of Justice (Contract 2013-DN-BX-K019). The opinions and conclusions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the aforementioned organizations.

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Correspondence to John Goodpaster.

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Kranz, W., Carroll, C., Dixon, D. et al. Optimization of total vaporization solid-phase microextraction (TV-SPME) for the determination of lipid profiles of Phormia regina, a forensically important blow fly species. Anal Bioanal Chem 409, 6349–6357 (2017).

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  • Total vaporization
  • Solid-phase microextraction
  • Phormia regina
  • Lipids
  • Blow fly