Scientists from TU Dresden and Kiel University examine how ticks cling on to surfaces
Ticks spend more than 90 percent of their up to three-year-long life starving and clambering around in leaf litter and on vegetation. They walk remarkable distances while periodically exploring distal plant parts in order to prey on their victims. Once they get to humans and animals, the little parasites walk along skin and hairs, searching for suitable feeding sites.
160 years after a first note by Hermann Burmeister about the ticks' feet composition of paired, curved, tapered tarsal claws and between them a pad, the current morphological details and adhesion experiments led to new deductions on the function of ticks' feet.
"The fact that not only the pad, but also the transparent claws contain the elastic protein resilin is surprising, because we have never observed resilin in arthropod claws before," said Dagmar Voigt from the Institute for Botany of Technische Universität Dresden. With these sticky pads, ticks are able to attach easily to smooth surfaces like human skin and glass.
Depending on the situation and required power, the pads can be folded and unfolded - similar to an accordion. An adhesion-mediated fluid adds to the adhesion of the pad. While walking in litter or on contaminated surfaces, ticks frequently fold back their feet and run on their tarsal-tibial joint.
Males are rather small and access the host body for copulation purposes only. Thus, their feet are smaller and attach less than females. On glass, females generate forces corresponding to more than 500-fold of their own body weight in order to ensure their safety.
During blood sucking, the female body weight can increase up to 135 times. Voigt and Gorb also showed that the attachment was worse on skin silicon replicas and on micro-rough resin surfaces. "As to attachment, ticks are almost generalists due to the combination of their soft adhesive pads and tapered claws; but not entirely.
Our experiments clearly show, how a future technical surface, having anti-adhesive properties for ticks, could look like," summarised Stanislav Gorb from the Zoological Institute of Kiel University. Thus, ticks could be prevented from attaching to skin and hair.
Movie of female ticks walking on a glass ceiling: http://movie.
Dr Dagmar Voigt
Technische Universität Dresden
Phone: +49 351 463 35834
Prof. Stanislav N. Gorb
Phone: +49 431880 4513
Kim-Astrid Magister | EurekAlert!
More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy