Insecticide resistance mechanisms with novel 'kdr' type gene mutations in the tropical bed bug Cimex hemipterus

Parasit Vectors. 2019 Jun 21;12(1):310. doi: 10.1186/s13071-019-3565-x.


Background: The tropical bed bug, Cimex hemipterus, is a serious indoor public health pest in tropical regions causing intense physical discomfort and mental distress to humans. At present, the application of insecticides is the major control strategy. The present study was designed to evaluate the development of resistance and resistance mechanisms in Cimex hemipterus from Kandy district, Sri Lanka.

Methods: The resistance status of the collected bed bugs was determined against the discriminative dosages of DDT, malathion, propoxur, deltamethrin and permethrin by conducting bioassays according to World Health Organization guidelines. Activities of insecticide metabolizing enzymes, i.e. esterases, glutathione S-transferases (GST) and monooxygenases, and the insensitivity of organophosphate/carbamate target site acetylcholinesterase (AChE), were evaluated by biochemical assays. Regions of the gene of the pyrethroid/DDT target site, the voltage-gated sodium channel regulatory protein (VGSC), were sequenced for possible kdr mutations.

Results: Survival percentages of bed bug population were 71, 68 and 51% for DDT, malathion and propoxur respectively. KT50 and KT90 values, calculated using log-probit mortality curves for deltamethrin were 62.55 and 123.96 h, respectively. These values were much higher for permethrin where KT50 was 201.10 h and the KT90 was beyond the detectable range. Results were compared with previous values reported for the same population in 2002. Resistance to propoxur has increased significantly from 11 to 51% with about a 20-fold increase in the number of individuals with elevated esterase mechanism. No significant change has occurred in malathion and DDT resistance, in GST and monooxygenase activities, and in AChE sensitivity for the past 14 years. Six kdr associated mutations (Y/L995H, V1010L, I1011F, L1014F, V1016E, L1017F/S) and a non-kdr associated mutation (A1007S mutation) were found from the α-region of the VGSC gene. Out of the kdr type mutations, only L1014F has been reported previously form C. hemipterus while the others have been reported from other insects.

Conclusions: The bed bug population has developed high resistance to propoxur with increased esterase activities. KT50 for deltamethrin and permethrin has increased 125- and 20-fold, respectively, over the period 2002 to 2016. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first time that the possible involvement of a kdr type mutation in developing pyrethroid resistance in C. hemipterus has been shown in Sri Lanka.

Keywords: Cimex hemipterus; Insecticide resistance; Resistance mechanisms; Tropical bed bug; kdr type mutations.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bedbugs / enzymology
  • Bedbugs / genetics*
  • Biological Assay
  • Esterases / metabolism
  • Genes, Insect*
  • Insecticide Resistance / genetics*
  • Insecticides*
  • Malathion
  • Mutation*
  • Permethrin
  • Propoxur
  • Sri Lanka


  • Insecticides
  • Permethrin
  • Propoxur
  • Esterases
  • Malathion