Volatile Emission of Decomposing Pig Carcasses (Sus scrofa domesticusL.) as an Indicator for thePostmortemInterval

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Abstract

This study aimed at correlating selected carcass borne volatile organic compounds (VOCs) with the postmortem interval (PMI). Selected volatiles should 1st be reliably emitted during vertebrate decay, 2nd be emitted at high concentrations, and 3rd show a reproducible quantitative dynamic during the decaying process. Four pigs (Sus scrofa domesticus L.) were placed in a deciduous forest in different seasons and volatiles emitted during the decaying process were sampled. Seventeen compounds were identified and quantified by GC-MS. Electrophysiological experiments on the antenna of female Calliphora vicina and additional data of Dermestes maculans were used as an evolutionary tuned information filter to evaluate the 1st criterion. The relative quantitative emission of hexanal, nonanal, dimethyl disulfide, dimethyl trisulfide, 1-butanol, and phenol were correlated with the PMI, and the observed stages of decay and the limitations of this model were discussed.

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