Bed bugs evolved unique adaptive strategy to resist pyrethroid insecticides

Sci Rep. 2013;3:1456. doi: 10.1038/srep01456.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / genetics
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Bedbugs / drug effects*
  • Bedbugs / genetics
  • Bedbugs / metabolism
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / genetics
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Genome
  • Insect Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Insect Proteins / genetics
  • Insect Proteins / metabolism
  • Insecticide Resistance / genetics
  • Insecticides / toxicity*
  • Mutation
  • Pyrethrins / toxicity*
  • RNA Interference


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Insect Proteins
  • Insecticides
  • Pyrethrins
  • cuticle proteins, insects
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System