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Biomechanics of substrate boring by fig wasps

Kundanati, Lakshminath and Gundiah, Namrata (2014) Biomechanics of substrate boring by fig wasps. In: JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY, 217 (11). pp. 1946-1954.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/jeb.098228

Abstract

Female insects of diverse orders bore into substrates to deposit their eggs. Such insects must overcome several biomechanical challenges to successfully oviposit, which include the selection of suitable substrates through which the ovipositor can penetrate without itself fracturing. In many cases, the insect may also need to steer and manipulate the ovipositor within the substrate to deliver eggs at desired locations before rapidly retracting her ovipositor to avoid predation. In the case of female parasitoid ichneumonid wasps, this process is repeated multiple times during her lifetime, thus testing the ability of the ovipositioning apparatus to endure fracture and fatigue. What specific adaptations does the ovipositioning apparatus of a female ichneumonoid wasp possess to withstand these challenges? We addressed this question using a model system composed of parasitoid and pollinator fig wasps. First, we show that parasitoid ovipositor tips have teeth-like structures, preferentially enriched with zinc, unlike the smooth morphology of pollinator ovipositors. We describe sensillae present on the parasitoid ovipositor tip that are likely to aid in the detection of chemical species and mechanical deformations and sample microenvironments within the substrate. Second, using atomic force microscopy, we show that parasitoid tip regions have a higher modulus compared with regions proximal to the abdomen in parasitoid and pollinator ovipositors. Finally, we use videography to film wasps during substrate boring and analyse buckling of the ovipositor to estimate the forces required for substrate boring. Together, these results allow us to describe the biomechanical principles underlying substrate boring in parasitoid ichneumonid wasps. Such studies may be useful for the biomimetic design of surgical tools and in the use of novel mechanisms to bore through hard substrates.

Item Type: Journal Article
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Additional Information: copyright for this article belongs to COMPANY OF BIOLOGISTS LTD, BIDDER BUILDING CAMBRIDGE COMMERCIAL PARK COWLEY RD, CAMBRIDGE CB4 4DL, CAMBS, ENGLAND
Department/Centre: Division of Mechanical Sciences > Mechanical Engineering
Date Deposited: 19 Aug 2014 09:27
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2014 09:27
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ernet.in/id/eprint/49577

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