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Itching for news?

Posted 26/01/2011 by KatieJ

Those of you itching to know if there is any progress on the bed bug scene – see blog of 12 January 2011 – will be pleased to know that US researchers have sequenced the entire genetic map of the bed bug Cimex lectularius and now say they may be able to now find out how and why this persistent pest is resistant to strong pesticides.

For example, the researchers note that ‘resistance to pyrethroids, such as deltamethrin and lambda-cyhalothrin, appears to be widespread within U.S. populations of C. Lectularius’.

But the researchers from Ohio State University also point out that the explosion in the bed bug population is not limited to just the US. ‘The resurgence of bed bugs poses an urgent situation as infestations are rampant globally, nationally and locally,’ the researchers write in their paper published in the journal of the Public Library of Science (PLoS ONE, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016336).

‘During the past decade or so, the resurgence of C. lectularius has been recorded across the globe including North America, Europe, Australia and Eastern Asia, with an estimated 100 to 500% annual increase in bed bug populations, ‘they point out, adding: ‘The control of these medicinally important insect pests in urban environments costs billions of dollars annually and typically requires the use of large quantities of pesticides/insecticides.’

But despite their prevalence, we know little about them as one of the researchers, Omprakash Mittapalli, points out: ‘While bed bugs are poised to become one of the major household pests across the United States in the coming years, we know very little about their genetic makeup and their mechanisms of resistance to insecticides.’

The good news is that the researchers report that the gene map has supplied some prime suspects for genes that confer pesticide resistance. ‘Pinpointing such defence mechanisms and the associated genes could lead to the development of novel methods of control that are more effective, ‘says Mittapalli.

In the meantime, good night, sleep tight and hope the bed bugs don’t bite.

Neil Eisberg - Editor

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  • Anonymous said:
    26/01/2011 07:10

    This molecular genetics approach does seem more rational than just scratching around for yet another possible pesticide.