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Genomics: How bed bugs resist insecticides

Scientific Reports

March 14, 2013

Fourteen molecular markers associated with resistance in bed bugs to a class of insecticides are identified in a paper published in Scientific Reports this week. The research adds to our understanding of the complex adaptive strategies employed by bed bugs, which could aid the design of the most effective and sustainable bed bug control methods.

Pyrethroid insecticides are commonly used in bed bug control due to their safety, effectiveness and low cost, but their use has also led to the widespread development of resistance. Subba Palli and colleagues used transcriptome analysis to identify molecular markers related to pyrethroid resistance in the bed bug Cimex lectularius, and assessed the relative contribution of these markers in 21 bed bug populations.

The authors report that the genes associated with pyrethroid resistance belong to diverse categories, and all are expressed in the epidermal layer of the integument - the tough outer shell that serves as the first cellular barrier for insecticides to cross before reaching target sites. The expression of resistance-associated genes in the integument may reduce insecticide penetration, increase toxin transport and enhance detoxification, the authors suggest. Further research is needed to fully understand the functional significance of these findings.

doi: 10.1038/srep01456

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