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  The biomechanics of the locust ovipositor valves : a unique digging apparatus

Das, R., Gershon, S., Bar-On, B., Tadayon, M., Ayali, A., & Pinchasik, B.-E. (2022). The biomechanics of the locust ovipositor valves: a unique digging apparatus. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 19(188): 20210955. doi:10.1098/rsif.2021.0955.

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 Creators:
Das, Rakesh, Author
Gershon, Shmuel, Author
Bar-On, Benny, Author
Tadayon, Maryam1, Author              
Ayali, Amir, Author
Pinchasik, Bat-El, Author
Affiliations:
1Yael Politi, Biomaterialien, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Max Planck Society, ou_1863297              

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 Abstract: The female locust has a unique mechanism for digging in order to deposit its eggs deep in the ground. It utilizes two pairs of sclerotized valves to displace the granular matter, while extending its abdomen as it propagates underground. This ensures optimal conditions for the eggs to incubate, and provides them with protection from predators. Here, two major axes of operation of the digging valves are identified, one in parallel to the propagation direction of the ovipositor, and one perpendicular to it. The direction-dependent biomechanics of the locust major, dorsal digging valves are quantified and analyzed, under forces in the physiological range and beyond, considering hydration level, as well as the females’ age, or sexual maturation state. Our findings reveal that the responses of the valves to compression forces in the specific directions change upon sexual maturation to follow their function, and depend on environmental conditions. Namely, in the physiological force range, the valves are resistant to mechanical failure. In addition, mature females, which lay eggs, have stiffer valves, up to roughly nineteen times the stiffness of the pre-mature locusts. The valves are stiffer in the major working direction, corresponding to soil shuffling and compression, compared to the direction of propagation. Hydration of the valves reduces their stiffness but increases their resilience against failure. These findings provide mechanical and materials guidelines for the design of novel non-drilling excavating tools, including 3D-printed anisotropic materials based on composites.Statement of significance The female locust lay its eggs underground in order to protect them from predators and to provide them with optimal conditions for hatching. In order to dig into the ground, it uses two pairs of valves: The ventral pair is plugged as a wedge, while the dorsal pair performs the digging of the oviposition tunnel. We study the mechanical response of the digging valves, depending on age, hydration level and direction of operation. Our findings show that during the course of roughly two weeks in the life of the adult female, the digging valves become up to nineteen-fold stiffer against failure, in order to fulfill their function as diggers. While hydration reduces the stiffness, it also increases the resilience against failure and renders the valves unbreakable within the estimated physiological force range and beyond. The digging valves are consistently stiffer in the digging direction than in the perpendicular direction, implying on their form-follows-function design.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.

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Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2022-03-162022
 Publication Status: Published in print
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 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2021.0955
DOI: 10.1101/2021.12.22.473831
Other: PDF angefragt. AP31032022
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Title: Journal of the Royal Society Interface
Source Genre: Journal
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Publ. Info: London : Royal Society
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 19 (188) Sequence Number: 20210955 Start / End Page: - Identifier: ISSN: 1742-5689

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Title: bioRxiv beta : the preprint server for biology
Source Genre: Journal
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Publ. Info: Cold Spring Harbor : Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Pages: - Volume / Issue: - Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: - Identifier: ZDB: 2766415-6