In many insect species, resistance to cyclodiene insecticides is caused by amino acid substitutions at a single residue (A302) within the M2 transmembrane region of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptor sub-unit termed Rdl (resistance to dieldrin). These mutations (A302S and A302G) have also been shown to confer varying levels of cross-resistance to fipronil, a phenylpyrazole insecticide with a similar mode of action to cyclodienes. To investigate the possible occurrence of these mutations in the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis (Bouché), a 176-bp fragment of the cat flea Rdl gene, encompassing the mutation site, was PCR amplified and sequenced from nine laboratory flea strains. The A302S mutation was found in eight of the nine strains analysed, although the relative frequency of the mutant allele varied between strains. Only one strain (R6) was found to be homozygous for the S302 allele in all the individuals tested, and this correlated with previous reports of low-level fipronil resistance in this strain. A PCR-based diagnostic assay, capable of screening individual fleas for this mutation, was developed and used to survey a range of fleas collected at random from veterinary clinics in the UK and USA. The A302S mutation was present at a high frequency in these domestic pet populations.
2004 Society of Chemical Industry.