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PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
8-Sep-2010

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Contact: Graeme Baldwin
graeme.baldwin@biomedcentral.com
44-020-319-22165
BioMed Central
@biomedcentral

Anti-aphrodisiac protects young bedbugs

IMAGE: This is a bedbug.

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Male bedbugs are known to be very unfussy when it comes to mating, mounting any well-fed bug they can see - regardless of age or gender. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Biology have discovered how immature bedbug nymphs, who would be harmed by the traumatic insemination technique practiced by the males, release alarm pheromones to deter this unwanted attention.

Vincent Harraca, from Lund University, Sweden, worked with a team of researchers to stage encounters between males and females or nymphs. He said, "The chemical communication, as well as the mating behavior, of bed bugs has received increased attention in recent years as bed bug infestations have increased worldwide. Mating is exclusively traumatic, with the male piercing an opening in the female and ejaculating directly into the abdominal cavity. In order to avoid this, we've found that bedbug nymphs release aldehyde pheromones that let the male know that they should look elsewhere. These results may be applied to decrease bed bug populations by mating disruption".

Harraca and his colleagues prevented a group of nymphs from signaling by blocking their scent glands with nail polish. These 'silenced' nymphs were then found to experience the same percentage of mating with sperm transfer as a normal female. Furthermore, application of the pheromones, to a male/female pair during mounting initiation caused a decrease in mating frequency. The anti-aphrodisiac blend of aldehydes was shown to signal through olfactory receptor neurons in the antennae of the repelled males. This research provides new insights into the chemical communication system of bed bugs and challenges the common view that alarm pheromones are used as a predator defense mechanism only.

Speaking about the results, Harraca said, "The chemical communication system of the bed bugs is only just unfolding, and further analyses on longevity costs to nymphs as well as males who have been pierced is a high priority to fully understand the picture of traumatic insemination".

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Notes to Editors

1. Nymphs of the common bed bug (Cimex lectularius) produce anti-aphrodisiac defence against conspecific males
Vincent Harraca, Camilla Ryne and Rickard Ignell
BMC Biology (in press)

During embargo, article available here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/imedia/1400445407406191_article.pdf?random=824633

After the embargo, article available at the journal website: http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcbiol/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication.

2. Images of bedbugs are available on request.

3. BMC Biology is the flagship biology journal of the BMC series, now incorporating Journal of Biology, the premier biology journal of BioMed Central, and publishes peer-reviewed research and methodology articles of special importance and broad interest in any area of biology and biomedical sciences, as well as full reviews, opinion pieces, commentary and Q&As on topics of special or topical interest. BMC Biology (ISSN 1741-7007) is covered by PubMed, MEDLINE, BIOSIS, CAS, EMBASE, Scopus, Zoological Record, CABI, Thomson Reuters (ISI) and Google Scholar.

4. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.



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