Bedbugs (Insects of the Cimicidae family, commonly Cimex lectularius) are annoying, might carry diseases (though this is unclear, so probably nothing importat1, and are apparently becoming more common in the US. Interestingly, there has been very little study done of their genetics. A new study just out in PLoS ONE looks at the bedbug genome in an effort to better understand pesticide resistance in these pesky critters.
The current working hypothesis is that pesticide resistance in bedbugs results from point mutations in certain genes, though there may be another explanation. Bedbugs produce enzymes at various stages of their development similar to those known to detoxify pesticides in other insects, so this study looked at the genetics of those enzymes in particular, to see if any were different in resistant bedbugs. They studied pesticide susceptible and pesticide resistant groups of the insects. The result was a much expanded database of genetic data that will hopefully lead to advanced genetic analysis of both these insects and other blood-drinking insects.
Certain genes, related to anti-pesticide enzymes, were found to be expressed at higher levels in all developmental stages of the pesticide-resistant forms of bedbugs. This seems to indicate that rather than point-mutation genetic differences, a developmental difference accounts for the ability of some bedbugs to resist pesticide poisoning.
Bai, X, & Et al. (2011). Transcriptomics of the Bed Bug (Cimex lectularius) PLoS ONE, 6 (1)
1Goddard J (2010) Bed bugs: Do they transmit diseases?. pp. 177-181.