Researchers hope to understand bedbugs by studying genetic history

Oct. 1, 2013 at 11:29 AM

NEW YORK, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- A study of the genetic makeup of bedbugs has been launched by researchers who say they are concerned the pests will become as common as cockroaches.

To understand the evolutionary history of both bedbugs and cockroaches, a team of researchers has begun a yearlong study of the insects' genomes, The Wall Street Journal reported this week.

"Bedbugs and cockroaches look pretty much the same as they did millions of year ago," said Dr. Mark Siddall, curator of invertebrates at the American Museum of Natural History in New York who is working with the team. "But they've grown up with us, almost like companion animals."

Bedbugs came to America decades ago. The tiny creatures are known for their nasty bites and their resistance to pesticides.

"Bed bugs are what cockroaches were several decades ago and it is a concern," added Coby Schal, a professor of entomology at North Carolina State University.

Sergios-Orestis Kolokotronis, a professor at Fordham University, is looking at a group of bedbugs collected at Fort Dix, N.J., in the 1970s. By comparing them with the fossils of ancient Egyptian bedbugs, he hopes to determine where they originated in Europe.

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