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Chem Senses. 2010 Mar;35(3):195-204. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bjp096. Epub 2009 Dec 23.

Characterization of the antennal olfactory system of the bed bug (Cimex lectularius).

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Division of Chemical Ecology, Department of Ecology, Ecology Building, Lund University, SE-223 62 Lund, Sweden.


The common bed bug Cimex lectularius (Hemiptera; Cimicidae) is a temporary ectoparasite on humans that is currently reinvading the developed countries. Like other haematophagous arthropods, host seeking and orientation in C. lectularius is partially mediated by olfaction. In this study, we reconfirmed the distribution of the 44 olfactory sensilla and identified 3 different sensillum types located at the distal tip of C. lectularius antenna by external morphology mapping. Using a panel of relevant odorants previously reported to be bioactive in various haematophagous arthropods, we correlated the morphological mapping with an electrophysiological characterization of the olfactory receptor neurons housed in each specific sensillum. We found that all 9 grooved peg sensilla responded specifically in a dose-dependent manner to ammonia, whereas (E)-2-hexenal, (E)-2-octenal, dimethyl trisulfide, 6-methyl-5-hepten-2-one, alpha-pinene, indole, and ethyl butyrate evoked dose-dependent responses within the 6 smooth peg sensilla. Based on the pattern of response to the tested compounds, we were able to separate the 6 smooth peg sensilla of the bed bug into 3 distinct functional classes. We compare our results with previous electrophysiological recordings made with these compounds on other haematophagous arthropods.

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