Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Genomic Tools to Reduce Error in PMI Estimates Derived from Entomological Evidence

Author: Aaron M. Tarone
The age of the blow fly is a useful forensic indicator for forensic entomologists as to the postmortem interval (PMI) in death investigations.
Estimates of fly age due to genetic variation, however, can vary considerably in their precision and can potentially impact forensic PMI timeline estimates. The purpose of this study was to expand knowledge of the genetic variations of the blow fly, with a goal of more precisely estimating PMI.

By conducting a selection experiment on development times of the blow fly, researchers were able to observe variances in development over tens of generations of selection. The results from this selection experiment were sequenced using next-generation sequencing technology to simultaneously develop reference genomes.

The project found that that a wild genetic variation could potentially impact forensic PMI predictions. The author also provides an empirical estimate of such an impact.
The author hopes that the results of this project will enable researchers to pursue candidate genes that are markers of development time variation, developmental progress, and thermal exposure for usefulness in predicting blow fly age. Such candidates could be developed into components of phenotype prediction and age prediction kits.

The author notes that the analyses are preliminary and suggests that subsequent publications with the data presented in this report may differ from future publications based on the collection of additional data, changes in parameter settings, differences in statistical tests performed, or choices in algorithms applied to the data.

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