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Title: Decade long upsurge in mutations associated with pyrethroid resistance in bed bug populations in the USA
Over the past three decades, the bed bug Cimex lectularius has resurged as a prominent indoor pest on a global scale. Knockdown-associated insecticide resistance (kdr) involving the voltage-gated sodium channel, targeted by organochlorine and pyrethroid insecticides, was first reported in C. lectularius within a few years of the widespread use of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and has been implicated as a significant factor contributing to the species’ recent resurgence. Since then, selection with pyrethroid insecticides has intensified, yet little is known regarding its short-term impacts on the frequency of kdr-associated mutations. Here, we report temporal changes in the frequencies of three kdr-associated mutations in C. lectularius populations collected across the USA from two time periods, sampled approximately a decade apart. The results reveal a significant increase in the frequencies of kdr-associated mutations over this period and the absence of the insecticide-susceptible genotype in recent collections. Furthermore, a significant transition was observed toward infestations possessing multiple kdr-associated mutations. These findings suggest that the persistent use of pyrethroid insecticides over the past decade continues to impose strong selection pressure on C. lectularius populations, driving the proliferation of kdr-associated mutations. They demonstrate that, if unabated, strong anthropogenic selection can drive the rapid evolution of adaptive more » traits. « less
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Award ID(s):
1754394 1754190
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Journal of Pest Science
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract In recent years, bed bugs have experienced a remarkable resurgence on a near global scale. While reports have primarily focused on the common bed bug, Cimex lectularius (L.), which has resurged largely in temperate regions, in tropical regions the tropical bed bug, Cimex hemipterus (F.) (Hemiptera: Cimicidae), has reemerged as well. Recent reports of C. hemipterus introductions to subtropical and temperate regions, outside of the species natural distribution, suggest the potential for establishment and further spread. Establishment may be aided by insecticide resistance mechanisms, such as the presence of knockdown resistance (kdr)-associated mutations, which potentially confer resistance to pyrethroid, pyrethrin, and organochloride insecticides. Here, we present the first report of the detection and likely establishment of C. hemipterus in Honolulu, Hawaii, from samples collected in 2009 and 2019. Furthermore, through partial sequencing of the voltage-gated sodium channel, we report the presence of kdr-associated mutations in all samples. These findings have implications for the implementation of control strategies aimed at eradicating infestations.
  2. Abstract Despite awareness of the mutations conferring insecticide resistance in the bed bug, Cimex lectularius L. (Hemiptera: Cimicidae), within the United States few studies address the distribution and frequency of these. Within the United States, studies have focused on collections made along the East Coast and Midwest, documenting the occurrence of two mutations (V419L and L925I) within the voltage-gated sodium channel α-subunit gene shown to be associated with knockdown resistance (kdr) to pyrethroids. Here, the distribution and frequency of the V419L and L925I site variants is reported from infestations sampled within Oklahoma and its immediately adjacent states. Additionally, the presence of a mutation previously undocumented in the United States (I935F) is noted. While novel in the United States, this mutation has previously been reported in Australian and Old World populations. No infestations were found to harbor wild-type individuals, and hence susceptible, at each of the three sites. Instead, ~21% were found to possess the resistant mutation at the L925I site (haplotype B), ~77% had mutations at both the V419L and L925I sites (haplotype C), and 2% possessed the mutation at the L936F site (haplotype Ab). The high frequency of haplotype C corresponds to previous studies in the United States, andmore »contrasts dramatically with those of the Old World and Australia. The data presented here provide insight into the contemporary occurrence of kdr-associated insecticide resistance in the South Central United States, a region for which data have previously been absent. These data suggest that New World and Old World/Australian infestations are likely to have originated from different origins.« less
  3. Abstract Background

    Widespread vector control has been essential in reducing the global incidence and prevalence of malaria, despite now stalled progress. Long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) have historically been, and remain, one of the most commonly used vector control tools in the campaign against malaria. LLINs are effective only with proper use, adherence, retention and community adoption, which historically have relied on the successful control of secondary pests, including bed bugs. The emergence of pyrethroid-resistant bed bugs in malaria-endemic communities and failure to control infestations have been suggested to interfere with the effective use of LLINs. Therefore, the behavioral interactions of bed bugs with commonly used bed nets should be better understood.


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    Commonly used new LLINs failed to prevent the passage of susceptible and pyrethroid-resistant bed bugs in host- and aggregation-seeking bioassays. The overall low and variable mortality observed in susceptible bed bugs during both assays highlighted the potential of LLINs to impose strong selection pressure for the evolution of pyrethroid resistance. Already, the failure to control bed bug infestations has been implicated as a contributing factor to the abandonment or misuse of LLINs. For the first time to our knowledge, we have shown the potential of LLINs in selecting for resistant secondary pest populations and so their potential role in stalling malaria control programs should be further investigated.

    Graphical Abstract

    The emergence of pyrethroid-resistant bed bugs in malaria-endemic communities may interfere with the effective use of pyrethroid-impregnated bed nets. We assessed the interactions of two bed bug strains with commonly used bed nets using two behavioral assays, namely host (blood meal)-seeking by unfed bed bugs and aggregation-seeking by freshly fed bed bugs. These assays assessed the passage of bed bugs through various bed nets in response to host cues and aggregation stimuli, respectively. Conditioned paper is a section of file folder paper that has been exposed to bed bugs and has been impregnated with feces and aggregation pheromone; it is attractive to aggregation-seeking fed bed bugs. An unconditioned ramp is a similar section of file folder paper that allows bed bugs to traverse the bed net and gain access to a blood-meal source.

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  4. Abstract

    In recent decades, the world has witnessed a remarkable resurgence of bedbugs (Hemiptera: Cimicidae). Although populations of the common bedbug,Cimex lectulariusL., expanded in temperate regions of its original distribution, the tropical bedbug,C. hemipterus(F.), increased its abundance in warmer regions, where it also had been historically distributed. However,C. hemipterushas recently been observed to be expanding to other areas, e.g. North Australia, Middle East, the United States and Russia. In other parts of Europe, few sporadic and ephemeral introductions ofC. hemipteruswere recorded until recently. We conducted an extensive sampling of European bedbug populations starting in 2002 and found thatC. hemipterushas recently become locally established. Among 566 examined infestations, nearly all of which involvedC. lectularius,C. hemipterusoccurred in six infestations collected since 2019. In at least three cases, the social background of inhabitants of the infested properties indicated that tropical bedbugs likely spread within local communities. Using cytochrome oxidase subunit I, we linked five of the infestations to the most common haplotype found globally, and one to an African haplotype. In all infestations, we observed twokdr‐associated mutations in the sodium channel gene, which are also commonly found across the world.

  5. Hribar, Lawrence (Ed.)
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