Building the future by doing more together

Forensic entomology: Morphometric and Molecular databank (mtDNA) to identify species (Diptera and Coleoptera) with forensic interest
Coordinator - Maria Teresa Ferreira Ramos Nabais de Oliveira Rebelo
CESAM Responsible researcher - Maria Teresa Ferreira Ramos Nabais de Oliveira Rebelo
Programme - PTDC/SAU-ESA/101228/2008
Execution dates - 2010-02-01 - 2013-06-30 (41 Months)
Funding Entity - FCT
Funding for CESAM - 120000 €
Total Funding - 120000 €
Proponent Institution - Universidade de Lisboa
Participating Institutions
Universidade de Aveiro

Forensic entomology (the study of insects as evidence in criminal proceedings) and, in particular, the knowledge of necrophilous and necrophagous Diptera and Coleoptera has been a neglected study area in Portugal.
Recently, a few work has been done in our country, and in Spain the area is an important field. As regional or seasonal variations in successional patterns of insects could greatly alter postmortem interval (PMI) estimates, there is a need to verify the consistency of these patterns in Portugal. Aditionally, precise entomological identifications are crucial and sometimes, due to intraspecific variation and inconspicous morphological differences between some species, an accurate determination is impossible. In the last years, molecular approches to the characterization of these species has been used with success, as they provide a fast identification, including immature specimens.
The main objective of this project is to prepare a morphometric and molecular databank (mtDNA) to identify species (Diptera and Coleoptera) with forensic interest. The team main purposes are i) to collect morphological information about immature and adult species that allow an easy recognition and ii) to use mtDNA molecular markers (CR and COI) to found out specific sequences which will be deposit at the Barcode databank in National Museum of Natural History in Lisbon to serve as a standard for future reference. An expansion of the established infra-structure and know-how to other insect group collections in future collaborations is expected.
The studies will be carried in the laboratories of the team at CBA, which has several years of experience in research related with this field.
With this project the gap of an important field of fundamental and applied forensic entomology research in Portugal might be covered, providing valuable tools to crime scene technicians, homicide investigators, and medical examiners involved in the death investigation process.

Members on this project
Deodália Dias

CESAM Funding: