Owings, Charity Grace 1987- (2012-12). Developmental Plasticity of Cochliomyia macellaria Fabricius (Diptera: Calliphoridae) from Three Distinct Ecoregions in Texas. Master's Thesis. Thesis uri icon

abstract

  • Forensic entomology is a well-established science linking arthropod biology and ecology to legal investigations. Specifically, immature development on a decomposing corpse may give insight into the minimum time elapsed since death. Until recently, biological variation within a single species has been overlooked when estimating colonization events. Variation in the form of phenotypic plasticity, or the ability of a single genotype to produce multiple phenotypes under alternative stresses, has been documented in genetic and ecological literature and spans across all phyla. Taking this into account, different subpopulations of forensically pertinent insect species should also possess the ability to adapt to changing environments as geographic distribution increases. Thus, plastic responses of a species to alternative stresses may be measured in biological parameters, such as development time. In this research, three geographically distinct strains of the blow fly Cochliomyia macellaria Fabricius (Diptera Calliphoridae) were reared in two distinct environments in order to measure development time, as well as pupal and adult masses. Strains exhibited genetic variance when compared to each other, and each strain exhibited variable responses across environments (phenotypic plasticity). Plasticity in the form of genotype by environment (GxE) interactions was also exhibited by C. macellaria, although consistent adherence to any single rule explaining ontogenetic trends was not apparent. This research supports the existence of intraspecific variation in a common blow fly of forensic importance. Results of this study will impact the forensic entomology community by encouraging the generation of either strain;specific developmental datasets or statistical models to minimize variation caused by genetic, environment, or GxE effects in order to compare developmental data across strains.
  • Forensic entomology is a well-established science linking arthropod biology and ecology to legal investigations. Specifically, immature development on a decomposing corpse may give insight into the minimum time elapsed since death. Until recently, biological variation within a single species has been overlooked when estimating colonization events. Variation in the form of phenotypic plasticity, or the ability of a single genotype to produce multiple phenotypes under alternative stresses, has been documented in genetic and ecological literature and spans across all phyla. Taking this into account, different subpopulations of forensically pertinent insect species should also possess the ability to adapt to changing environments as geographic distribution increases. Thus, plastic responses of a species to alternative stresses may be measured in biological parameters, such as development time.



    In this research, three geographically distinct strains of the blow fly Cochliomyia macellaria Fabricius (Diptera Calliphoridae) were reared in two distinct environments in order to measure development time, as well as pupal and adult masses. Strains exhibited genetic variance when compared to each other, and each strain exhibited variable responses across environments (phenotypic plasticity). Plasticity in the form of genotype by environment (GxE) interactions was also exhibited by C. macellaria, although consistent adherence to any single rule explaining ontogenetic trends was not apparent. This research supports the existence of intraspecific variation in a common blow fly of forensic importance. Results of this study will impact the forensic entomology community by encouraging the generation of either strain;specific developmental datasets or statistical models to minimize variation caused by genetic, environment, or GxE effects in order to compare developmental data across strains.

publication date

  • December 2012