Molecular analysis of the blood meals and bacterial communities of bed bugs (Cimex lectularius L.) to assess interactions with alternative hosts.

Affiliation

Potts R(#)(1), Peta V(#)(1), Agany DDM(2), Gnimpieba EZ(2), Cooper R(3), Wang C(3), Pietri JE(4).
Author information:
(1)Sanford School of Medicine, Division of Basic Biomedical Sciences, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD, USA.
(2)Biomedical Engineering Program, University of South Dakota, Sioux Falls, SD, USA.
(3)Department of Entomology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.
(4)Sanford School of Medicine, Division of Basic Biomedical Sciences, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD, USA. [Email]
(#)Contributed equally

Abstract

Common bed bugs (Cimex lectularius L.) are hematophagous pests present in urban environments across the globe. It is widely established that they have a strong host preference for humans. However, there are records of C. lectularius feeding upon a range of mammalian and avian hosts, including rodents, in the field. There is little information available about how frequently common bed bugs feed on alternative hosts in residential settings, but understanding this phenomenon has implications for both management of infestations and public health. Here, we examined cohorts of C. lectularius collected from 13 different dwellings in the state of New Jersey, USA, that were known to be simultaneously infested with house mice (Mus musculus domesticus). Host-specific quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) was used to determine if blood meals were taken from mice, while 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing was used to screen the bed bugs for the presence of zoonotic bacterial pathogens. We found no evidence that any of the bed bugs we collected fed on mice. Furthermore, the insects harbored depauperate bacterial communities that did not include known human pathogens. However, host-specific qPCR detected feline DNA in a pool of bed bugs from one dwelling, suggesting that interaction with domestic pets should be further investigated. Although sampling in this study was limited, the approach described herein will be useful for additional studies of the interactions between bed bugs and alternative blood meal hosts.