Forensic fly DNA database

A support for identifying flies of forensic interest

It is well known that flies collected on crime scenes may be used by forensic investigators to determine the time of death (post mortem interval). Yet, this is only possible if the species of the flies, the larvae and the pupae can be identified accurately. Using the expertise of three federal institutes, the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS), the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) and the National Institute of Criminalistics and Criminology (NICC), researchers have been able to assemble a reference library that can be used by forensic investigators from western Europe to identify flies collected on crime scenes at any stage of their life cycle. This collaboration considerably enlarged the available reference library of DNA barcodes useful in forensic investigations. Read the complete press release on

In total, 482 DNA sequences, obtained from Belgian and West European flies have been published in international databases: GenBank (all new sequences can be found here) and BOLD where the new dataset is grouped with all other available DNA sequences (searches can be performed on the basis of DNA sequences, taxonomic names, geographic origin, etc.).

Further results and analyses have been published in four international journals disseminating scientific resources useful for the elucidation of crime:

  • G. Sonet, K. Jordaens, Y. Braet, L. Bourguignon, E. Dupont, T. Backeljau, M. De Meyer, S. Desmyter. 2013. ‘Utility of GenBank and the Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) for the identification of forensically important Diptera from Belgium and France’. ZooKeys 365: 307-328. Link
  • K. Jordaens, G. Sonet, Y. Braet, M. De Meyer, T. Backeljau, F. Goovaerts, L. Bourguignon, S. Desmyter. 2013. ‘DNA barcoding and the differentiation between North American and West European Phormia regina (Diptera, Calliphoridae, Chrysomyinae)’. ZooKeys 365: 149-174. Link
  • K. Jordaens, G. Sonet, R. Richet, E. Dupont, Y. Braet, S. Desmyter. 2012. ‘Identification of forensically important Sarcophaga species (Diptera: Sarcophagidae) using the mitochondrial COI gene’. International Journal of Legal Medicine 127(2): 491-504. Link
  • G. Sonet, K. Jordaens, Y. Braet, S. Desmyter. 2012. ‘Why is the molecular identification of the forensically important blowfly species Lucilia caesar and L. illustris (family Calliphoridae) so problematic?’. Forensic Science International 223(1-3): 153-9. Link

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith