Bedbug Genes Reveal Their Secrets

Bedbugs are pesky things to deal with - but have you stopped to wonder what makes them so resilient? For the first time, new research has been done on the DNA of bedbugs to be informed on what makes them tick - and how we can weaken them.

While bedbugs possess impressive natural defenses against pesticides, they also appear to be vulnerable at certain points during their life cycle. In a study published in the journal Nature Communications, it was found that bedbugs have genes both inside their bodies and in their thick, armored skin to help detoxify insecticides and improve their resistance to similar pest-controlling chemicals.

However, these specific genes don’t swing into action until the pests have grown up and consumed their first meal of human blood. As such, it would seem that some of them are most vulnerable during their early development, and that’s when they would be the most vulnerable to insecticides.

As a result, pest control experts may now be able to redesign existing pesticides or formulate new ones to target bedbugs when they are young. In addition, since bacteria also helps bedbugs build resistance, the pesticides might also feature antibiotic targeting. It’s our hope that by identifying these genes, research can continue moving towards identifying new and effective control methods to curb growing infestations.

SOURCES: Christopher Mason, Ph.D., assistant professor, physiology and biophysics, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York City; Ameya Gondhalekar, Ph.D., assistant professor, entomology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.; Jim Fredericks, Ph.D., chief entomologist, vice president of technical and regulatory affairs, National Pest Management Association; Feb. 2, 2016, Nature Communications

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