Egg attachment of the asparagus beetle Crioceris asparagi to the crystalline waxy surface of Asparagus officinalis

Dagmar Voigt, Stanislav Gorb

Abstract

Plant surfaces covered with crystalline epicuticular waxes are known to be anti-adhesive, hardly wettable and preventing insect attachment. But there are insects that are capable of gluing their eggs to these surfaces by means of proteinaceous secretions. In this study, we analysed the bonding region between the eggs of Crioceris asparagi and the plant surface of Asparagus officinalis using light and cryo-scanning electron microscopy. The wettability of the plant surface by egg secretion was compared with that by Aqua Millipore water, aqueous sugar solution and chicken egg white. Furthermore, the force required to remove C. asparagi eggs from the plant surface was measured, in order to evaluate the egg's bonding strength. Mean pull-off force was 14.7 mN, which is about 8650 times higher than the egg weight. Egg glue was observed spreading over the wax crystal arrays on the plant cladophyll and wetting them. Similar wetting behaviour on the A. officinalis surface was observed for chicken egg white. Our results support the hypothesis that the mechanism of insect egg adhesion on micro- and nanostructured hydrophobic plant surfaces is related to the proteinaceous nature of adhesive secretions of insect eggs. The secretion wets superhydrophobic surfaces and after solidifying builds up a composite, consisting of the solidified glue and wax crystals, at the interface between the egg and plant cuticle.

Footnotes

    • Received September 20, 2009.
    • Accepted October 26, 2009.
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