Authors Nickerl, J. ; Tsurkan, M. ; Hensel, R. ; Neinhuis, C. ; Werner, C.
Title The multi-layered protective cuticle of Collembola: a chemical analysis
Date 18.08.2014
Abstract Collembola, also known as springtails, are soil-dwelling arthropods that typically respire through the cuticle. To avoid suffocating in wet conditions, Collembola have evolved a complex, hierarchically nanostructured, cuticle surface that repels water with remarkable efficiency. In order to gain a more profound understanding of the cuticle characteristics, the chemical composition and architecture of the cuticle of Tetrodontophora bielanensis was studied. A stepwise removal of the different cuticle layers enabled controlled access to each layer that could be analysed separately by chemical spectrometry methods and electron microscopy. We found a cuticle composition that consisted of three characteristic layers, namely, a chitin-rich lamellar base structure overlaid by protein-rich nanostructures, and a lipid-rich envelope. The specific functions, composition and biological characteristics of each cuticle layer are discussed with respect to adaptations of Collembola to their soil habitat. It was found that the non-wetting characteristics base on a rather typical arthropod cuticle surface chemistry which confirms the decisive role of the cuticle topography.
Journal Journal of the Royal Society Interface 11 (2014) 2014.0619

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