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J Struct Biol. 2003 Jun;142(3):364-8.

Raman-atomic force microscopy of the ommatidial surfaces of Dipteran compound eyes.

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Chemical Analysis and Materials Development Group, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, M/S 125-109, Pasadena 91109, USA.


The ommatidial lens surfaces of the compound eyes in several species of files (Insecta: Diptera) and a related order (Mecoptera) were analyzed using a recently developed Raman-atomic force microscope. We demonstrate in this work that the atomic force microscope (AFM) is a potentially useful instrument for gathering phylogenetic data and that the newly developed Raman-AFM may extend this application by revealing nanometer-scale surface chemistry. This is the first demonstration of apertureless near-field Raman spectroscopy on an intact biological surface. For Chrysopilus testaceipes Bigot (Rhagionidae), this reveals unique cerebral cortex-like surface ridges with periodic variation in height and surface chemistry. Most other Brachyceran flies, and the "Nematoceran" Sylvicola fenestralis (Scopoli) (Anisopodidae), displayed the same morphology, while other taxa displayed various other characteristics, such as a nodule-like (Tipula (Triplicitipula) sp. (Tipulidae)) or coalescing nodule-like (Tabanus punctifer Osten Sacken (Tabanidae)) morphology, a smooth morphology with distinct pits and grooves (Dilophus orbatus (Say) (Bibionidae)), or an entirely smooth surface (Bittacus chlorostigma MacLachlan (Mecoptera: Bittacidae)). The variation in submicrometer structure and surface chemistry provides a new information source of potential phylogenetic importance, suggesting the Raman-atomic force microscope could provide a new tool useful to systematic and evolutionary inquiry.

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