Mitochondrial DNA and morphology show independent evolutionary histories of bedbug Cimex lectularius (Heteroptera: Cimicidae) on bats and humans

Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgments

Unfortunately, we cannot name all the far more than 100 people who have taken part in collecting bedbug material for the study. We express our deepest thanks to all of them! We are thankful for help with lab work and comments on the manuscript from Josef Bryja, Jan Zima (Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic), Petr Janšta, Jakub Straka (Charles University, Czech Republic), and Martina Komárková (Institute of Animal Science, Prague, Czech Republic). We would like to express our gratitude to Gale Allen Kirking (English Editorial Services, Brno) for the correction of English. The study was supported by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic (project no. MSM 0021620828) and a grant from the Grant Agency of Charles University (no. 2010/45610).

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Correspondence to Ondřej Balvín.

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Balvín, O., Munclinger, P., Kratochvíl, L. et al. Mitochondrial DNA and morphology show independent evolutionary histories of bedbug Cimex lectularius (Heteroptera: Cimicidae) on bats and humans. Parasitol Res 111, 457–469 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-012-2862-5

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Keywords

  • Migration Rate
  • Effective Population Size
  • Discriminant Function Analysis
  • Original Host
  • Host Association