The remarkable ability of geckos to adhere to a wide-variety of surfaces has served as an inspiration for hundreds of studies spanning the disciplines of biomechanics, functional morphology, ecology, evolution, materials science, chemistry, and physics. The multifunctional properties (e.g., self-cleaning, controlled releasability, reversibility) and adhesive performance of the gekkotan adhesive system have motivated researchers to design and fabricate gecko-inspired synthetic adhesives of various materials and properties. However, many challenges remain in our attempts to replicate the properties and performance of this complex, hierarchical fibrillar adhesive system, stemming from fundamental, but unanswered, questions about how fibrillar adhesion operates. Such questions involve the role of fibril morphology in adhesive performance and how the gekkotan adhesive apparatus is utilized in nature. Similar fibrillar adhesive systems have, however, evolved independently in two other lineages of lizards (anoles and skinks) and potentially provide alternate avenues for addressing these fundamental questions. Anoles are the most promising group because they have been the subject of intensive ecological and evolutionary study for several decades, are highly speciose, and indeed are advocated as squamate model organisms. Surprisingly, however, comparatively little is known about the morphology, performance, and properties of their convergently-evolved adhesive arrays. Although many researchers consider themore »
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Going Out on a Limb: How Investigation of the Anoline Adhesive System Can Enhance Our Understanding of Fibrillar Adhesion
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And thereby hangs a tail: morphology, developmental patterns and biomechanics of the adhesive tails of crested geckos ( Correlophus ciliatus )Among the most specialized integumentary outgrowths in amniotes are the adhesive, scale-like scansors and lamellae on the digits of anoles and geckos. Less well-known are adhesive tail pads exhibited by 21 gecko genera. While described over 120 years ago, no studies have quantified their possible adhesive function or described their embryonic development. Here, we characterize adult and embryonic morphology and adhesive performance of crested gecko ( Correlophus ciliatus ) tail pads. Additionally, we use embryonic data to test whether tail pads are serial homologues to toe pads. External morphology and histology of C . ciliatus tail pads are largely similar to tail pads of closely related geckos. Functionally, C . ciliatus tail pads exhibit impressive adhesive ability, hypothetically capable of holding up to five times their own mass. Tail pads develop at approximately the same time during embryogenesis as toe pads. Further, tail pads exhibit similar developmental patterns to toe pads, which are markedly different from non-adhesive gecko toes and tails. Our data provide support for the serial homology of adhesive tail pads with toe pads.
Genome size is implicated in the form, function, and ecological success of a species. Two principally different mechanisms are proposed as major drivers of eukaryotic genome evolution and diversity: polyploidy (i.e., whole-genome duplication) or smaller duplication events and bursts in the activity of repetitive elements. Here, we generated de novo genome assemblies of 17 caddisflies covering all major lineages of Trichoptera. Using these and previously sequenced genomes, we use caddisflies as a model for understanding genome size evolution in diverse insect lineages.
We detect a ∼14-fold variation in genome size across the order Trichoptera. We find strong evidence that repetitive element expansions, particularly those of transposable elements (TEs), are important drivers of large caddisfly genome sizes. Using an innovative method to examine TEs associated with universal single-copy orthologs (i.e., BUSCO genes), we find that TE expansions have a major impact on protein-coding gene regions, with TE-gene associations showing a linear relationship with increasing genome size. Intriguingly, we find that expanded genomes preferentially evolved in caddisfly clades with a higher ecological diversity (i.e., various feeding modes, diversification in variable, less stable environments).
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