Planthopper bugs use a fast, cyclic elastic recoil mechanism for effective vibrational communication at small body size

Leonidas Romanos Davranoglou, Alice Cicirello, Graham K. Taylor, Beth Mortimer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
189 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Vibrations through substrates are an important source of information for diverse organisms, from nematodes to elephants. The fundamental challenge for small animals using vibrational communication is to move their limited mass fast enough to provide sufficient kinetic energy for effective information transfer through the substrate whilst optimising energy efficiency over repeated cycles. Here, we describe a vibratory organ found across a commercially important group of plant-feeding insects, the planthoppers (Hemiptera: Fulgoromorpha). This elastic recoil snapping organ generates substrate-borne broadband vibrations using fast, cyclical abdominal motion that transfers kinetic energy to the substrate through the legs. Elastic potential energy is stored and released twice using two different latched energy-storage mechanisms, each utilising a different form of elastic recoil to increase the speed of motion. Comparison to the acoustic tymbal organ of cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadomorpha) reveals functional convergence in their use of elastic mechanisms to increase the efficacy of mechanical communication.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere3000155
Number of pages17
JournalPLoS Biology
Volume17
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2019

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