In a report that appears in the journal Nature Communications, an international consortium of scientists describe the sequence of the 650 megabase genome of the Cimex lecturlarius, the common bed bug. Within the code of the 14,200 genes that provide the blueprint for the workhorse proteins of the cell, they found genes linked to reproduction, the genes that attract the insects to human blood and several mechanisms that could lead to pesticide resistance.
“There are consequences of the bed bugs’ vampire tendencies,” said Dr. Stephen Richards, associate professor in the Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center. “Their blood meals make them swell up, and they have cuticle genes that give them the flexibility to do that. Blood is a liquid diet, and they have water channels that allow them to deal with the sheer amount of fluid. They have the olfactory and vision repertoire similar to other dawn-to-dusk insects.”
“It’s no surprise we like to kill them. However, that is becoming more difficult. We now have a list of all the genes that can be involved in resistance to pesticides.”