The present study tests the hypothesis that the specialized claws with a basal tooth found in some coccinellid beetles represent an adaptation to interlock with flexible unbranched trichomes of different plants. We compared the attachment ability of three Coleoptera species, Chnootriba elaterii, Harmonia axyridis (both Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), and Chrysolina herbacea (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) with claws of different shape. The attachment ability of insect individuals with or without claws to a plant with leaves bearing straight non-branched trichomes (Cucurbita moschata) and to a plant with smooth leaves (Prunus laurocerasus) was measured in traction force experiments. Insect attachment ability was also tested on a resin replica of C. moschata leaf, to variate trichome stiffness, and on glass as a reference surface. Centrifugal force tester experiments were performed to compare the attachment ability of the two ladybird species to glass and to the leaf of C. moschata. Natural and artificial substrates were characterized in cryo-SEM. The collected data reveal that plant trichomes can enhance insect attachment to plant surface compared with smooth glass by increasing insect friction force, but this is directly related to the trichome stiffness. To effectively grasp soft trichomes, insects evolved special claws-associated structures, such as the dentate claws observed in Coccinellidae.

Coleoptera claws and trichome interlocking

Salerno, Gianandrea;Rebora, Manuela
;
Piersanti, Silvana;Saitta, Valerio;
2022

Abstract

The present study tests the hypothesis that the specialized claws with a basal tooth found in some coccinellid beetles represent an adaptation to interlock with flexible unbranched trichomes of different plants. We compared the attachment ability of three Coleoptera species, Chnootriba elaterii, Harmonia axyridis (both Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), and Chrysolina herbacea (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) with claws of different shape. The attachment ability of insect individuals with or without claws to a plant with leaves bearing straight non-branched trichomes (Cucurbita moschata) and to a plant with smooth leaves (Prunus laurocerasus) was measured in traction force experiments. Insect attachment ability was also tested on a resin replica of C. moschata leaf, to variate trichome stiffness, and on glass as a reference surface. Centrifugal force tester experiments were performed to compare the attachment ability of the two ladybird species to glass and to the leaf of C. moschata. Natural and artificial substrates were characterized in cryo-SEM. The collected data reveal that plant trichomes can enhance insect attachment to plant surface compared with smooth glass by increasing insect friction force, but this is directly related to the trichome stiffness. To effectively grasp soft trichomes, insects evolved special claws-associated structures, such as the dentate claws observed in Coccinellidae.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11391/1533534
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