Tracking Bed Bugs By Following Their DNA

A team of Sheffield University scientists’, led by biologist Toby Fountain, have undertaken the task to pinpoint the DNA “signature” of bed bugs. This will enable the team to track, via these genetic markers, where particular infestations originated. Fountain announced his project at the 1st Joint Congress on Evolutionary Biology, recently held in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Litigation Impact

This capability could affect bed bug litigation issues – providing proof of where exactly an infestation originated, and it could unravel how and from where, this pest has spread world-wide in a short period of time. According to Toby:
"If you’ve picked up bed bugs from a hotel, you could look at the genetic markers of that bed bug and be fairly sure that they came from that place."
The team has just begun to work with pest control teams across London to gather samples and begin the task of tracing the pests’ movement throughout that city. Samples are also being collected from Nairobi, Kenya.
Why Kenya? Apparently bed bugs have always been in that area, hence the theory that could be the place of origin; another theory purposes long-term isolated infestations have, for some unknown reason, erupted and spread out.

Olympics Impact

It was noted in Sydney Australia, a bed bug explosion occurred post–Olympics. With the upcoming Summer Olympics scheduled to begin in London, England, Toby’s teams is poised to reap a large number of field samples.
Click to read the original BBC News release.



Posted on July 11, 2012 and filed under news & events.