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PLoS One. 2011;6(9):e25105. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0025105. Epub 2011 Sep 30.

Smart skin patterns protect springtails.

Author information

1
Max Bergmann Centre of Biomaterials, Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research Dresden, Dresden, Germany.

Abstract

Springtails, arthropods who live in soil, in decaying material, and on plants, have adapted to demanding conditions by evolving extremely effective and robust anti-adhesive skin patterns. However, details of these unique properties and their structural basis are still unknown. Here we demonstrate that collembolan skin can resist wetting by many organic liquids and at elevated pressures. We show that the combination of bristles and a comb-like hexagonal or rhombic mesh of interconnected nanoscopic granules distinguish the skin of springtails from anti-adhesive plant surfaces. Furthermore, the negative overhang in the profile of the ridges and granules were revealed to be a highly effective, but as yet neglected, design principle of collembolan skin. We suggest an explanation for the non-wetting characteristics of surfaces consisting of such profiles irrespective of the chemical composition. Many valuable opportunities arise from the translation of the described comb-like patterns and overhanging profiles of collembolan skin into man-made surfaces that combine stability against wear and friction with superior non-wetting and anti-adhesive characteristics.

PMID:
21980383
PMCID:
PMC3184130
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0025105
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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