Akhoundi M, Cannet A, Loubatier C, Berenger JM, Izri A, Marty P, Delaunay P
Wolbachia symbionts are maternally inherited intracellular bacteria that have been detected in numerous insects including bed bugs. The objective of this study, the first epidemiological study in Europe, was to screen Wolbachia infection among Cimex lectularius collected in the field, using PCR targeting the surface protein gene (wsp), and to compare obtained Wolbachia strains with those reported from laboratory colonies of C. lectularius as well as other Wolbachia groups. For this purpose, 284 bed bug specimens were caught and studied from eight different regions of France including the suburbs of Paris, Bouches-du-Rhône, Lot-et-Garonne, and five localities in Alpes-Maritimes. Among the samples, 166 were adults and the remaining 118 were considered nymphs. In all, 47 out of 118 nymphs (40%) and 61 out of 166 adults (37%) were found positive on wsp screening. Among the positive cases, 10 samples were selected randomly for sequencing. The sequences had 100% homology with wsp sequences belonging to the F-supergroup strains of Wolbachia. Therefore, we confirm the similarity of Wolbachia strains detected in this epidemiological study to Wolbachia spp. reported from laboratory colonies of C. lectularius.