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Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2002 Dec;32(12):1605-13.

Chemical composition of the attachment pad secretion of the locust Locusta migratoria.

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Biochemistry Department, MPI of Developmental Biology, Spemannstr. 35, D-72076, Tübingen, Germany.


This study is the first attempt to characterise the chemical composition of the secretion of the smooth pads of the locust Locusta migratoria and to relate this to the composition of the cuticle coverage of the pads and the wings. Gas-chromatography and mass-spectrometry (GC-MS) were the principal techniques used for the characterization of these materials. Secretion droplets were visualised and quantified with the aid of diverse microscopic techniques. The chemical composition of prints is shown to differ from the cuticle coverage, in particular, with respect to the fatty acid distribution: in the secretion, saturated and unsaturated fatty acids with chain lengths between C(16) and C(20) in both the free form and as glycerides predominate, whereas cuticle coverage contains waxes of long-chained fatty-acids bound to long-chain primary alcohols. The second important difference is the significant amount of glucose and other saccharides found in methanolyzates of the pad fluid. A considerable amount of the amino acids (up to 53%) was detected in the non-volatile portion of the fluid. Data obtained from the shock-freezing, carbon-platinum coating and replica preparation show that the secretory droplets contain nano-droplets on their surfaces. The results lead us to suggest that the pad secretion is an emulsion consisting of lipidic nano-droplets dispersed in an aqueous liquid. According to the chemical composition of the secretion, a high-viscosity of the fluid may be suggested. Presumably, the fluid is a kind of a coupling agent, promoting and strengthening adhesion between otherwise incompatible materials by providing the proximity of contact for intermolecular forces.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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