Prof. Socrates Letana talks on the prospects of PHL Forensic Dipterology

by Ryan Pascual (Regulon)

As part of the UPLB-MNH Biodiversity Seminar Series,  Professor Socrates Letana of the Institute of Biology, University of the Philippines Diliman gave a talk on the prospects of Forensic Dipterology in the Philippines at the UPLB Museum of Natural History last June 17, 2015. 

Prof. Socrates Letana (left) receiving a certificate of appreciation from
Dr. Juan Carlos Gonzales, Director of UPLB MNH (right).
Photos: UPLB-MNH
Forensic entomology is the field of science that covers the use of insects and other arthropods in forensic investigations. One of its sub-specializations is forensic dipterology which focuses on the insects from the Order Diptera. The blow flies (Calliphoridae), flesh flies (Sarcophagidae), and house flies (Muscidae) are some of the popular species known from this order. These insect species are important in forensic investigations since they prefer to lay eggs on corpses. The particular stage development of the fly eggs in the corpse is widely used in the determination of the post-mortem interval (PMI) or the time between death and the discovery of the body. Recent application of modern techniques in the field include DNA barcoding of insects for species identification, DNA profiling of insect gut contents, and toxicological analysis (entomotoxicology). 

Much is still needed to develop the potential of this field in the Philippines, one of which is the study of Philippine species relevant in forensic analysis. There is also a need for capacity building since  the number of specialists that can support the field is still low particularly in government institutions involved in forensics. 

The former IBS instructor completed his undergraduate degree in Biology (Major in Systematics, 2000) and Master's degree in Entomology (2011) in UPLB. Prof. Letana (Triploid) is also an alumnus of The UPLB Genetics Society.

IN PHOTOS: UPLB MNH Biodiversity Seminar on "Prospects of Forensic Dipterology in the Philippines" on 17 June by Soc Letana of Institute of Biology, UP Diliman