Aggregation behavior and reproductive compatibility in the family Cimicidae

Zachary Devries, Russell Mick, Ondřej Balvín, Coby Schal

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9 Scopus citations


Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) provide a unique opportunity to understand speciation and host-associated divergence in parasites. Recently, two sympatric but genetically distinct lineages of C. lectularius were identified: one associated with humans and one associated with bats. We investigated two mechanisms that could maintain genetic differentiation in the field: reproductive compatibility (via mating crosses) and aggregation fidelity (via two-choice sheltering assays). Effects were assessed at the intra-lineage level (within human-associated bed bugs), inter-lineage level (between human- and bat-associated bed bugs), and inter-species level (between C. lectularius and Cimex pipistrelli [bat bug]). Contrary to previous reports, bed bugs were found to be reproductively compatible at both the intra- and inter-lineage levels, but not at the inter-species level (although three hybrids were produced, one of which developed into an adult). Lineage- and species-specific aggregation fidelity was only detected in 8% (4 out of 48) of the aggregation fidelity assays run. These results indicate that under laboratory conditions, host-associated lineages of bed bugs are reproductively compatible, and aggregation pheromones are not capable of preventing gene flow between lineages.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13163
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Richard Santangelo for assistance with experimental animals during this study, Maryann DeVries for assistance with bioassays, and Tomáš Bartonička for providing the Moravičany bed bug population. Funding for this study was provided by the Blanton J. Whitmire Endowment at North Carolina State University, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development Healthy Homes program (NCHHU0017–13), the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (2013–5–35 MBE), and a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences grant to the Center for Human Health and the Environment (CHHE, P30ES025128). ZD received the David R. Nimocks Jr. Fellowship and scholarship awards from the Foundation for Agromedicine and Toxicology, Pi Chi Omega and the Entomological Society of America (Monsanto Research Grant Award, MUVE Scholarship).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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