Bed bugs evolved unique adaptive strategy to resist pyrethroid insecticides

Fang Zhu, Hemant Gujar, Jennifer R. Gordon, Kenneth F. Haynes, Michael F. Potter, Subba R. Palli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

167 Scopus citations


Recent advances in genomic and post-genomic technologies have facilitated a genome-wide analysis of the insecticide resistance-associated genes in insects. Through bed bug, Cimex lectularius transcriptome analysis, we identified 14 molecular markers associated with pyrethroid resistance. Our studies revealed that most of the resistance-associated genes functioning in diverse mechanisms are expressed in the epidermal layer of the integument, which could prevent or slow down the toxin from reaching the target sites on nerve cells, where an additional layer of resistance (kdr) is possible. This strategy evolved in bed bugs is based on their unique morphological, physiological and behavioral characteristics and has not been reported in any other insect species. RNA interference-aided knockdown of resistance associated genes showed the relative contribution of each mechanism towards overall resistance development. Understanding the complexity of adaptive strategies employed by bed bugs will help in designing the most effective and sustainable bed bug control methods.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1456
JournalScientific Reports
StatePublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are grateful to Shelby Stamper, Scott Bessin, and Mark Goodman (University of Kentucky) for collecting bed bug samples. We thank Dr. David R. Nelson (University of Tennessee) for help in naming Cimex lectularius P450s. We thank Timothy Walter Moural for his help with language editing. Supported by grants from National Research Initiative of the USDA-NIFA (2011-67013-30143) and Bayer Environmental Science. The paper is contribution (13-08-43) from Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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