Photo of the Week: Sherlock’s Window- In search of an odourless growth medium

Dr Andrew Whittington,
Faculty of Science and TechnologyDr Andrew Whittington, Faculty of Science and Technology

Sherlock’s Window: In search of an odourless growth medium

Our next instalment of the ‘Photo of the Week’ series features Dr Andrew Whittington‘s image of a third instar blowfly larva (maggot).  The series is a weekly instalment, which features an image taken by our fantastic BU staff and students. The photos give a glimpse into some of the fascinating work our researchers have been doing across BU and the wider community.

A key aspect of forensic investigation is the assessment of the ‘window of opportunity’ during which death took place. Estimations using insects (e.g. blowflies) increase accuracy. Using blowflies to determine post-mortem period requires an understanding of the temperature dependent growth patterns that they develop through their life cycle. In order to understand this, blowfly larvae are reared on growth media in the laboratory.

Sherlock’s Window is a HEIF funded project at BU which aims to produce an odourless growth medium that can be rolled out internationally for use in forensic investigation. Illustrated here is the head of a third instar blowfly larva. Maggots have no eyes, but the protrusions at the tip of the mouth area are palps, used for feeling and manipulating food particles. The rows of black barbs that are visible are used to pull the maggot forward through the food substrate.

If you’d like find out more about the research or the photo itself then please contact Dr Whittington.

This photo was originally an entry to the 2017 Research Photography Competition. If you have any other questions about the Photo of the Week series or the competition please email research@bournemouth.ac.uk