Tag Archives: American Chemical Society

Embargoed bedbug study comes with a bite

Brenda Goodman

About Brenda Goodman

Brenda Goodman (@GoodmanBrenda), an Atlanta-based freelancer, is AHCJ’s topic leader on medical studies, curating related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on medical study resources and tip sheets at brenda@healthjournalism.org.

Image by UGA College of Ag via flickr.

Recently, as part of a package of studies sent to reporters in advance of their annual meeting, the American Chemical Society put out an embargoed press release on a study of bedbug genes.

The study details how researchers at the University of Kentucky surveyed the entire genomes of 21 different bedbug populations collected from large cities in the Midwest.

They discovered that 14 genes work in various combinations to thwart a type of chemical that has commonly been used to kill the blood-sucking critters. What’s even more fascinating is that most of these genes are found in the insects’ tough outer shell, or cuticle. They code for proteins that pump the chemicals out of their bodies or break their molecular bonds, rendering the agents harmless.

Bedbugs, perhaps more than other insects, are masters at becoming resistant to the chemicals we use to try to kill them. That’s thought to be a major reason why they have made a comeback in homes and hotels across the country. This study went a long way toward showing why they’re so hardy and how we might be able to develop better methods to control them in the future.

The problem is that this all sounds a bit familiar to regular readers of Scientific Reports, a research publication from the publishers of Nature.

Scientific Reports published the same research on March 14. Continue reading