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J Insect Physiol. 1998 Nov;44(11):1053-1061.

Origin and pathway of the epidermal secretion in the damselfly head-arresting system (Insecta: Odonata).

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MPI für Entwicklungsbiologie, Spemannstr. 35, D-72076, Tübingen, Germany


In damselflies, the arrester system is responsible for an additional attachment of the head to the neck. It consists of a pair of mobile postcervical sclerites (SPC) covered by microtrichia. In their lateral position, SPCs can fixate the head on fields of microtrichia on the back surface of the head. The intact surface of microtrichia of the SPC is usually covered by a lipid-containing secretion. The present study provides ultrastructural data on the secretory epidermis and pore channels adapted to transport the secretion to the cuticle surface. 1) Shock-frozen preparations of the contact area show that microtrichia of co-opted surfaces do not interlock with each other. When co-opted fields are pressed to each other, deformations of flexible microtrichia of the SPC result in an increase of contact area between corresponding structures and consequently in an increase of frictional forces. 2) In the area of the SPC, only electron-lucent vesicles have been found. Histochemical procedures revealed that the material stored in vesicles and liberated on the external surface of the SPC is presumably non-volatile lipid. 3) Only a small number of large pore channels reach the surface of a microtrichium. Most of them terminate with tiny terminal channels, whose diameter is approximately six to twenty times smaller than the diameter of structures of secretory blooms occurring in SEM in shock-frozen and air-dried preparations. The terminal channels do not penetrate the epicuticular layer. It seems that the secretion reaches the epicuticle through terminal channels and diffuses through the epicuticle without any channel structures.

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