MALDI-TOF MS identification of Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus bedbugs

Linda Benkacimi, Gladys Gazelle, Basma El Hamzaoui, Jean Michel Bérenger, Philippe Parola, Maureen Laroche

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bedbugs (Cimex lectularius and C. hemipterus) have reemerged as a major public health problem around the world. Their bites cause various skin lesions as well as discomfort and anxiety. Their role as potential vectors of various infectious agents is discussed. Accordingly, all suspected cases of bedbug infestations need to be documented thoroughly, with an unequivocal identification of the arthropods involved, if any are present. Although morphological identification is easily and quickly performed by entomologists or professionals, it can be challenging otherwise. Also, distinguishing Cimex lectularius and C. hemipterus requires entomological expertise. MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry has been recently presented as an additional tool for arthropod identification. In this study, we assess the use of MALDI-TOF MS for the identification of laboratory and wild strains of C. lectularius and C. hemipterus. Several body parts of laboratory reared C. lectularius specimens were used to develop a MALDI-TOF MS protocol for bedbug identification, which was later validated using five other laboratory and wild populations of C. hemipterus and C. lectularius. A total of 167C. lectularius and C. hemipterus bedbug specimens (98 laboratory specimens and 69 wild specimens) were submitted to MALDI-TOF MS analysis. 143/167 (85.63%) provided high quality MS spectra. The in-lab database was then upgraded with a total of 20 reference spectra from all bedbug populations and the rest of the MS spectra (123 bedbugs) were blind tested. All specimens were properly identified to the species level using MALDI-TOF MS and 86,25% (69/80) were aptly identified according to their origin with LSVs ranging from 1.867 to 2.861. MALDI-TOF MS appears as a reliable additional tool for the identification of these two anthropophilic species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104536
JournalInfection, Genetics and Evolution
StatePublished - Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Arthropod identification
  • Bedbugs
  • Cimex hemipterus
  • Cimex lectularius

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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