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Bedbugs Reveal Their Genetic Secrets in Lab Study
Date:1/20/2011

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For the study, published online Jan. 19 in the journal PLoS ONE, Mittapalli's team studied the DNA and RNA of laboratory-raised bedbugs that are susceptible to insecticides and bedbugs previously exposed to pesticides from an apartment in Columbus, Ohio.

The researchers identified 35,646 expressed sequence tags -- many more than previously known -- which are vital in gene discovery and sequencing. These tags reflect the bugs' diverse genetic abilities, Mittapalli said. "These are the RNA molecules being expressed after a good meal of blood," he said.

Bedbug expert Jerome Goddard said "one of the big problems is that we can't seem to kill them [bedbugs] very well."

The bugs are resistant to the pyrethroid insecticides most pest controllers use, and "these scientists are trying to figure out which genes play a role in that insecticide resistance. I guess to maybe someday manipulate that resistance," said Goddard, an associate extension professor of medical and veterinary entomology at Mississippi State University, in Starksville.

Missy Henriksen, a spokeswoman for the National Pest Management Association, said that any research being done to further understanding of bedbugs in terms of eradicating them "is all good."

The current bedbug scourge has its roots in the ease of modern-day travel, Henriksen said. "Bedbugs need humans for their very survival," she said. Picking up bedbugs and bringing them home is the number one way infestations start, she noted.

Growing pesticide resistance means that "a product that may be effective in killing bedbugs in Kentucky may not be as effective in killing bedbugs in Ohio," she said.

For now, Henriksen advised calling a professional to rid your house of bedbugs if you have them.

To prevent them from taking hold in the first place, inspect furniture or clothing before bringing them into your home, she said. When you travel, inspect your hotel room for bedbugs and keep bags
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