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Cell Tissue Res. 2014 Jan;355(1):213-22. doi: 10.1007/s00441-013-1731-6. Epub 2013 Oct 18.

Slowly contracting muscles power the rapid jumping of planthopper insects (Hemiptera, Issidae).

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Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 3EJ, England, UK,


The planthopper insect Issus produces one of the fastest and most powerful jumps of any insect. The jump is powered by large muscles that are found in its thorax and that, in other insects, contribute to both flying and walking movements. These muscles were therefore analysed by transmission electron microscopy to determine whether they have the properties of fast-acting muscle used in flying or those of more slowly acting muscle used in walking. The muscle fibres are arranged in a parallel bundle that inserts onto an umbrella-shaped tendon. The individual fibres have a diameter of about 70 μm and are subdivided into myofibrils a few micrometres in diameter. No variation in ultrastructure was observed in various fibres taken from different parts of the muscle. The sarcomeres are about 15 μm long and the A bands about 10 μm long. The Z lines are poorly aligned within a myofibril. Mitochondrial profiles are sparse and are close to the Z lines. Each thick filament is surrounded by 10-12 thin filaments and the registration of these arrays of filaments is irregular. Synaptic boutons from the two excitatory motor neurons to the muscle fibres are characterised by accumulations of ~60 translucent 40-nm-diameter vesicle profiles per section, corresponding to an estimated 220 vesicles, within a 0.5-μm hemisphere at a presynaptic density. All ultrastructural features conform to those of slow muscle and thus suggest that the muscle is capable of slow sustained contractions in keeping with its known actions during jumping. A fast and powerful movement is thus generated by a slow muscle.

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