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Microcrystals coating the wing membranes of a living insect (Psocoptera: Psyllipsocidae) from a Brazilian cave.

Lienhard C, Ferreira RL, Gnos E, Hollier J, Eggenberger U, Piuz A - Sci Rep (2012)

Bottom Line: They did not exhibit any signs of reduced vitality in the field and their morphology is completely normal.Guano probably played a role in its formation; the presence of iron may be a consequence of the excretion of iron by the common vampire bat.This enigmatic phenomenon lacks obvious biological significance but may inspire bionic applications.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Natural History Museum of the City of Geneva, CP 6434, CH-1211 Geneva 6, Switzerland. charleslienhard@bluewin.ch

ABSTRACT
Two specimens of Psyllipsocus yucatan with black wings were found with normal individuals of this species on guano piles produced by the common vampire bat Desmodus rotundus. These specimens have both pairs of wings dorsally and ventrally covered by a black crystalline layer. They did not exhibit any signs of reduced vitality in the field and their morphology is completely normal. This ultrathin (1.5 µm) crystalline layer, naturally deposited on a biological membrane, is documented by photographs, SEM micrographs, energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) and X-ray diffractometry (XRD). The crystalline deposit contains iron, carbon and oxygen, but the mineral species could not be identified. Guano probably played a role in its formation; the presence of iron may be a consequence of the excretion of iron by the common vampire bat. This enigmatic phenomenon lacks obvious biological significance but may inspire bionic applications. Nothing similar has ever been observed in terrestrial arthropods.

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EDS analysis of Psyllipsocus yucatan, female.The green lines indicate positions of characteristic X-ray lines of Fe. (a) Spectrum of wing of black specimen analysed on carbon adhesive tape (black spectrum), and adhesive tape only (red spectrum). Note the presence of Fe from the crystal deposit. (b) Spectrum of wing of normal specimen on carbon adhesive tape (black spectrum), and adhesive tape only (red spectrum). (c) Spectrum of wing crystal deposit of black specimen analysed on aluminium stub (black spectrum), and stub only (red spectrum). Note the presence of C and O in addition to Fe in the crystals.
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f8: EDS analysis of Psyllipsocus yucatan, female.The green lines indicate positions of characteristic X-ray lines of Fe. (a) Spectrum of wing of black specimen analysed on carbon adhesive tape (black spectrum), and adhesive tape only (red spectrum). Note the presence of Fe from the crystal deposit. (b) Spectrum of wing of normal specimen on carbon adhesive tape (black spectrum), and adhesive tape only (red spectrum). (c) Spectrum of wing crystal deposit of black specimen analysed on aluminium stub (black spectrum), and stub only (red spectrum). Note the presence of C and O in addition to Fe in the crystals.

Mentions: EDS analyses on the SEM were performed on the untreated right hind wing of the black female. They showed that the crystals on its surface contain iron, carbon and oxygen (Figure 8). All other element signals are from the carbon adhesive tape (Figure 8a, b) or the aluminium stub (Figure 8c). Iron was not detected during the control analysis of the wings of a normal female of Psyllipsocus yucatan collected in Tiquara cave on the same date as the black specimens (Figure 8b).


Microcrystals coating the wing membranes of a living insect (Psocoptera: Psyllipsocidae) from a Brazilian cave.

Lienhard C, Ferreira RL, Gnos E, Hollier J, Eggenberger U, Piuz A - Sci Rep (2012)

EDS analysis of Psyllipsocus yucatan, female.The green lines indicate positions of characteristic X-ray lines of Fe. (a) Spectrum of wing of black specimen analysed on carbon adhesive tape (black spectrum), and adhesive tape only (red spectrum). Note the presence of Fe from the crystal deposit. (b) Spectrum of wing of normal specimen on carbon adhesive tape (black spectrum), and adhesive tape only (red spectrum). (c) Spectrum of wing crystal deposit of black specimen analysed on aluminium stub (black spectrum), and stub only (red spectrum). Note the presence of C and O in addition to Fe in the crystals.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3351784&req=5

f8: EDS analysis of Psyllipsocus yucatan, female.The green lines indicate positions of characteristic X-ray lines of Fe. (a) Spectrum of wing of black specimen analysed on carbon adhesive tape (black spectrum), and adhesive tape only (red spectrum). Note the presence of Fe from the crystal deposit. (b) Spectrum of wing of normal specimen on carbon adhesive tape (black spectrum), and adhesive tape only (red spectrum). (c) Spectrum of wing crystal deposit of black specimen analysed on aluminium stub (black spectrum), and stub only (red spectrum). Note the presence of C and O in addition to Fe in the crystals.
Mentions: EDS analyses on the SEM were performed on the untreated right hind wing of the black female. They showed that the crystals on its surface contain iron, carbon and oxygen (Figure 8). All other element signals are from the carbon adhesive tape (Figure 8a, b) or the aluminium stub (Figure 8c). Iron was not detected during the control analysis of the wings of a normal female of Psyllipsocus yucatan collected in Tiquara cave on the same date as the black specimens (Figure 8b).

Bottom Line: They did not exhibit any signs of reduced vitality in the field and their morphology is completely normal.Guano probably played a role in its formation; the presence of iron may be a consequence of the excretion of iron by the common vampire bat.This enigmatic phenomenon lacks obvious biological significance but may inspire bionic applications.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Natural History Museum of the City of Geneva, CP 6434, CH-1211 Geneva 6, Switzerland. charleslienhard@bluewin.ch

ABSTRACT
Two specimens of Psyllipsocus yucatan with black wings were found with normal individuals of this species on guano piles produced by the common vampire bat Desmodus rotundus. These specimens have both pairs of wings dorsally and ventrally covered by a black crystalline layer. They did not exhibit any signs of reduced vitality in the field and their morphology is completely normal. This ultrathin (1.5 µm) crystalline layer, naturally deposited on a biological membrane, is documented by photographs, SEM micrographs, energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) and X-ray diffractometry (XRD). The crystalline deposit contains iron, carbon and oxygen, but the mineral species could not be identified. Guano probably played a role in its formation; the presence of iron may be a consequence of the excretion of iron by the common vampire bat. This enigmatic phenomenon lacks obvious biological significance but may inspire bionic applications. Nothing similar has ever been observed in terrestrial arthropods.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus