Insect mandibles—comparative mechanical properties and links with metal incorporation

Cribb, Bronwen W., Stewart, Aaron, Huang, Han, Truss, Rowan, Noller, Barry, Rasch, Ronald and Zalucki, Myron P. (2008) Insect mandibles—comparative mechanical properties and links with metal incorporation. Naturwissenschaften, 95 1: 17-23. doi:10.1007/s00114-007-0288-1

Author Cribb, Bronwen W.
Stewart, Aaron
Huang, Han
Truss, Rowan
Noller, Barry
Rasch, Ronald
Zalucki, Myron P.
Title Insect mandibles—comparative mechanical properties and links with metal incorporation
Journal name Naturwissenschaften   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0028-1042
Publication date 2008-01-01
Year available 2007
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s00114-007-0288-1
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 95
Issue 1
Start page 17
End page 23
Total pages 7
Editor Tatiana Czeschlik
Place of publication Heidelberg, Germany
Publisher Springer Berlin
Language eng
Subject C1
960411 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species in Urban and Industrial Environments
060808 Invertebrate Biology
Abstract A number of arthropod taxa contain metals in their mandibles (jaws), such as zinc, manganese, iron, and calcium. The occurrence of zinc and its co-located halogen chlorine have been studied in relation to the mechanical properties and shown to be linked in a direct fashion with increasing concentration. Hardness along with elastic modulus (stiffness) has also been linked to zinc and halogen concentration in some marine polychaete worms. The metal appears to be incorporated within the biological matrix, possibly bonding with proteins. However, the comparative advantage of metal inclusion has not been tested. It is possible that without metals, alternative mechanisms are used to achieve hardness of equal value in similar ‘tools’ such as mandibles. This question has direct bearing on the significance of metal hardening. In the present article, we compare across mandibles from six termite species, including samples with major zinc concentration, minor manganese, and no metals. Nanoindentation, electron microscopy, and electron microanalysis are used to assess metal concentration, form, and mechanical properties. The data demonstrate that termite mandibles lacking metals when fully developed have lower values for hardness and elastic modulus. Zinc is linked to a relative 20% increase in hardness when compared with mandibles devoid of metals. The similar transition metal, manganese, found in minor concentrations, is not linked to any significant increase in these mechanical properties. This raises the question of the function of manganese, which is as commonly found in insect mandibles as zinc and often located in the same mandibles.
Keyword Coptotermes
Young’s modulus
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

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Created: Thu, 08 May 2008, 01:11:58 EST by Marie-Louise Moore on behalf of National Res Centre For Environmental Toxicology