Mitochondrial DNA and morphology show independent evolutionary histories of bedbug Cimex lectularius (Heteroptera: Cimicidae) on bats and humans
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- Balvín, O., Munclinger, P., Kratochvíl, L. et al. Parasitol Res (2012) 111: 457. doi:10.1007/s00436-012-2862-5
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The bedbug, Cimex lectularius, is a well-known human ectoparasite that is reemerging after a long absence of several decades in developed countries of North America and Western Europe. Bedbugs’ original hosts were likely bats, and the bedbugs are still common in their roosts. Using morphometry and sequences of mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I and 16S genes, we showed that the populations on bats and humans are largely isolated and differ in morphology. The character of the morphological difference suggests it to be due to adaptation to different hosts, namely adaptations to different sensory, feeding, and dispersal needs. Using the molecular data, we estimated the time of splitting into bat- and human-parasitizing groups using the isolation-with-migration model. The estimate is surprisingly long ago and seems to predate the expansion of modern human from Africa. The gene flow between bat- and human-parasitizing bedbugs is limited and asymmetric with prevailing direction from human-parasitizing populations to bat-parasitizing populations. The differentiation of the populations fits the concept of host races and supports the idea of sympatric speciation. Furthermore, our findings contradict recently formulated hypotheses suggesting bat roosts as a source of bedbug’s resurgence as a human pest. Also, we extend the known host range of the bedbug by two bat species.