BackgroundSolar-powered sea slugs are famed for their ability to survive starvation due to incorporated algal chloroplasts. It is well established that algal-derived carbon can be traced in numerous slug-derived compounds, showing that slugs utilize the photosynthates produced by incorporated plastids. Recently, a new hypothesis suggests that the photosynthates produced are not continuously made available to the slug. Instead, at least some of the plastid’s photosynthetic products are stored in the plastid itself and only later become available to the slug. The long-term plastid-retaining slug, Elysia timida and its sole food source, Acetabularia acetabulum were examined to determine whether or not starch, a combination of amylose and amylopectin and the main photosynthate produced by A. acetabulum, is produced by the stolen plastids and whether it accumulates within individual kleptoplasts, providing an energy larder, made available to the slug at a later time.ResultsHistological sections of Elysia timida throughout a starvation period were stained with Lugol’s Iodine solution, a well-known stain for starch granules in plants. We present here for the first time, an increase in amylose concentration, within the slug’s digestive gland cells during a starvation period, followed by a sharp decrease. Chemically blocking photosynthesis in these tissues resulted in no observable starch, indicating that the starch in untreated animals is a product of photosynthetic activity.ConclusionThis suggests that kleptoplasts function as both, a nutritive producer and storage device, holding onto the polysaccharides they produce for a certain time until they are finally available and used by the starving slug to withstand extended starvation periods.
Leg chordotonal organs in insects show different adaptations to detect body movements, substrate vibrations, or airborne sound. In the proximal tibia of stick insects occur two chordotonal organs: the subgenual organ, a highly sensitive vibration receptor organ, and the distal organ, of which the function is yet unknown. The distal organ consists of a linear set of scolopidial sensilla extending in the tibia in distal direction toward the tarsus. Similar organs occur in the elaborate hearing organs in crickets and bushcrickets, where the auditory sensilla are closely associated with thin tympanal membranes and auditory trachea in the leg. Here, we document the position and attachment points for the distal organ in three species of stick insects without auditory adaptations (Ramulus artemis, Sipyloidea sipylus, and Carausius morosus). The distal organ is located in the dorsal hemolymph channel and attaches at the proximal end to the dorsal and posterior leg cuticle by tissue strands. The central part of the distal organ is placed closer to the dorsal cuticle and is suspended by fine tissue strands. The anterior part is clearly separated from the tracheae, while the distal part of the organ is placed over the anterior trachea. The distal organ is not connected to a tendon or muscle, which would indicate a proprioceptive function. The sensilla in the distal organ have dendrites oriented in distal direction in the leg. This morphology does not reveal obvious auditory adaptations as in tympanal organs, while the position in the hemolymph channel and the direction of dendrites indicate responses to forces in longitudinal direction of the leg, likely vibrational stimuli transmitted in the leg’s hemolymph. The evolutionary convergence of complex chordotonal organs with linear sensilla sets between tympanal hearing organs and atympanate organs in stick insects is emphasized by the different functional morphologies and sensory specializations.
Abstract. The species-rich giant pill-millipedes (Sphaerotheriida) often represent a microendemic component of Madagascar's mega-invertebrate fauna. Of the chirping genus Sphaeromimus de Saussure & Zehntner, 1902, ten species have been described. Here, we describe two new species of Sphaeromimus integratively, combining light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, DNA barcoding and micro-CT technology for the first time in a taxonomic description of a giant pillmillipede. S. kalambatritra sp. nov. and S. midongy sp. nov. are the first giant pill-millipedes collected and described from the mountainous rainforests of Kalambatritra and Midongy. Both species show island gigantism compared to their congeners. Our analysis of the mitochondrial COI gene shows that the two species are related to one another with a moderate genetic distance (9.4%), while they are more closely related to an undetermined specimen from the forest of Vevembe (6.3% and 8.4%). They stand in a basal position with S. ivohibe S. musicus (de Saussure & Zehntner, 1897). The four aforementioned species share a high number of stridulation ribs on the male harp. Our micro-CT analysis provides a look into the head of S. kalambatritra sp. nov. and shows that non-destructive CT methods are a useful tool for studying the inner morphology of giant pill-millipedes.
An inventory of the Myriapoda (Diplopoda, Chilopoda, Symphyla) from Cretaceous Burmese amber, Myanmar, is presented, including the oldest and/or first fossil record for numerous orders. For millipedes (Diplopoda) 527 records, including 460 new specimens determined by us, belonging to 13 of 16 recent orders are listed: Polyxenida,
Two new species of giant pill-millipedes, Zephronia viridisoma Rosenmejer & Wesener sp. nov. and Sphaerobelum aesculus Rosenmejer & Wesener sp. nov., are described based on museum samples from southern Thailand. Zephronia viridisoma sp. nov. comes from Khao Lak, while the type locality of S. aesculus sp. nov. is on Phuket Island. Both species are described integratively, combining light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, multi-layer photography, micro-CT scans and genetic barcoding. Genetic barcoding was successfully conducted for holotypes of both new species, which could be added to a dataset of all published sequences of the family Zephroniidae, including all described species from Thailand, Laos and Cambodia up to 2020. Genetic barcoding of the COI gene revealed another female of S. aesculus sp. nov., 160 km east of the type locality. Both new species are genetically distant from all other Zephroniidae from Thailand and surrounding countries, showing uncorrected p-distances of 16.8–23.1%. A virtual cybertype of a paratype of Z. viridisoma sp. nov. was created and made publically accessible.
The entire Mesozoic Era is rather poor in millipede (class Diplopoda) fossils, with less than a dozen species being taxonomically described. Here, we describe the first fossil millipede of the order Callipodida, Burmanopetaluminexpectatumgen. nov. et sp. nov., found in early Cenomanian amber of Burma, 98.79±0.62 Mya. The species possesses a number of morphological traits that exclude it from all extant suborders, and Burmanopetalidea suborder nov. and Burmanopetalidae fam. nov. are here erected to accommodate it. The new suborder can be recognized by the following unique characters: pleurotergal setae absent; telson with a specific spatulate shape twice the size of the penultimate body ring; hypoproct devoid of setae; and eyes composed of five well-separated ommatidia. While the callipodidan habitus seems to have remained generally unchanged for at least 99 million years, pleurotergal and hypoproctal setation, as well as the complexity of eyes in ground-dwelling forms may have evolved recently in the order. As B.inexpectatumgen. nov. et sp. nov. is the first true callipodidan in the fossil record, the minimum age of Callipodida is thus at least 99 Mya.
With three genera and 35 previously known species from India, SE Asia, Central and South America, Glomeridesmida are one of the least diverse Diplopoda groups. Here we describe Glomeridesmus siamensissp. nov., the first species of the order Glomeridesmida from Thailand. The geographically nearest confamiliar species have been described from southern India, Sumatra and Java. The species is described combining photographs, light- and scanning electron microscopy of mature and younger males, females and juveniles. Several characters are illustrated for the first time for an Asian representative of the family Glomeridesmidae. In addition to the type locality of G. siamensissp. nov. from Krabi province, locality data of unidentified Glomeridesmus from Thailand are also given. These data are providing further evidence that the Glomeridesmida are not uncommon, but overlooked as they are small and difficult to collect. The unusual telopods and other morphological characters of G. siamensissp. nov. differ considerably from the few Glomeridesmus males described from Central and South America as well as from India, but the unclear status of two generic names available for species from Indonesia prevents us from adding another generic name to this small and understudied order.
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