Characterization of the defense secretion in centipedes.


Margret Eckhard

PhD student (Advs. Andreas Wanninger, Janek von Byern)
Unit for Integrative Zoology, Department of Evolutionary Biology
University of Vienna

Biological adhesives are used by various organisms from bacteria up to terrestrial and aquatic metazoans for different strategies including surface attachment, prey capture or as defence. One of the major features of these secretions are their fast release, short curing time and high strong bonding ability and strength. Chilopoda, which belong to the group of Myriapoda, capture preys by using highly lethal venoms. However, such toxins are only partly used also as defense, instead some taxa secrete a fast curing resin-like glue against predators.

In geophilomorphes, this glue is produced in so-called sternal glands, located on the ventral surface of each sternite. The current project focuses on the characterization of four centipede species (Henia vesuviana, Henia illyrica, Haplophilus subterraneus and Strigamia maritima) with the aim to characterize the chemical and biomechanical properties of the adhesive secretions. Besides focus is also laid on potential morphological differences of each gland system to verify genus-related differences.
This comparative study provides insights into the diversity of epithelial secretions in centipedes and thus elucidates the process of glue synthesis, secretion and composition in this large arthropod taxon.