Naturwissenschaften

, Volume 95, Issue 3, pp 257–261 | Cite as

Convergent evolution in the antennae of a cerambycid beetle, Onychocerus albitarsis, and the sting of a scorpion

Short Communication

Abstract

Venom-injecting structures have arisen independently in unrelated arthropods including scorpions, spiders, centipedes, larval owlflies and antlions, and Hymenoptera (wasps, ants, and bees). Most arthropods use venom primarily as an offensive weapon to subdue prey, and only secondarily in defense against enemies. Venom is injected by biting with fangs or stinging with a specialized hypodermic structure used exclusively for the delivery of venom (usually modified terminal abdominal segments). A true sting apparatus, previously known only in scorpions and aculeate wasps, is now known in a third group. We here report the first known case of a cerambycid beetle using its antennae to inject a secretion that causes cutaneous and subcutaneous inflammation in humans. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that the terminal antennal segment of Onychocerus albitarsis (Pascoe) has two pores opening into channels leading to the tip through which the secretion is delivered. This is a novel case of convergent evolution: The delivery system is almost identical to that found in the stinger of a deadly buthid scorpion.

Keywords

Anisocerini Aculeus Cerambycidae Defense chemicals Leiurus quinquestriatus O. crassus 

Supplementary material

References

  1. Allison JD, Borden JH, Seybold SJ (2004) A review of the chemical ecology of the Cerambycidae (Coleoptera). Chemoecology 14:123–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Blum MS (1996) Semiochemical parsimony in the Arthropoda. Annu Rev Entomol 41:353–374PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. de Júlio CE A, Monné MA (2001) Onychocerus Lepeletier & Audinet-Serville, 1830 (Coleoptera, Cerambycidae, Lamiinae, Anisocerini): Espécies novas e chave para identificação. Bol Mus Nac 443:1–8Google Scholar
  4. Ehret-Sabatier L, Loews D, Goyffon M, Fehlbaum P, Hoffman JA, van Dorsselaer A, Bulet P (1996) Characterization of novel cysteine-rich antimicrobial peptides from scorpion blood. J Biol Chem 271:29537–29544PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Grimaldi D, Engel M (2005) Evolution of the insects. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  6. Hermann HR (1971) Sting autotomy, a defensive mechanism in certain social Hymenoptera. Insectes Sociaux 18:111–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hjelle JT (1990) Anatomy and morphology. In: Polis GA (ed) The biology of scorpions. Stanford University Press, Stanford, pp 9–63Google Scholar
  8. Laurent P, Braekman J-C, Daloze D (2005) Insect chemical defense. Top Curr Chem 240:167–229Google Scholar
  9. Lawrence JF (1982) Coleoptera. In: Parker S (ed) Synopsis and classification of living organisms. McGraw Hill, New York, pp 482–553Google Scholar
  10. Linsley EG (1959) The ecology of the Cerambycidae. Annu Rev Entomol 4:99–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Martins UR, Galileo MHM, Santos-Silva A, Rafael JA (2006) Cerambycidae (Coleoptera) coletados a luz a 45 metros de altura, no dossel da floresta amazônica, e a descrição de quatro espécies novas. Acta Amazonica 36:265–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Mebs D (2002) Venomous and poisonous animals: a handbook for biologists, toxicologists and toxinologists, physicians and pharmacists. Medpharm Scientific Publishers, StuttgartGoogle Scholar
  13. Monné MM (2001) Catalogue of the Neotropical Cerambycidae (Coleoptera) with known host plant—Part III: Subfamily Lamiinae, tribes Acanthocinini to Apomecynini. Publ Avul Mus Nac 92:1–94Google Scholar
  14. Pitman NCA (2005) An overview of the Los Amigos watershed, Madre de Dios, southeastern Peru. Unpublished report available from the author at http://npitman@amazonconservation.org
  15. Schofield RMS, Nesson MH, Richardson KA, Wyeth P (2003) Zinc is incorporated into cuticular “tools” after ecdysis: The time course of the zinc distribution in “tools” and whole bodies of an ant and a scorpion. J Insect Physiol 49:31–44PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Smith HH (1884) Antennae of a beetle used as defensive weapons. Am Nat 18:727–728Google Scholar
  17. Taib NT, Jarrar BM (1993) Histological and histochemical characterization of the venom apparatus of Palestine yellow scorpion, Leiurus quinquestriatus Hemprich & Ehrenberg 1828. Trop Zool 6:143–152Google Scholar
  18. Tavakilian G, Berkov A, Meurer-Grimes B, Mori S (1997) Neotropical tree species and their faunas of xylophagous longicorns (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) in French Guiana. Bot Rev 63:303–355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ueda K, Imamura M, Saito A, Sato R (2005) Purification and cDNA cloning of an insect defensin from larvae of the longicorn beetle, Acalolepta luxuriosa. Appl Entomol Zool 40:335–345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Veiga LM, Ferrari SF (2006) Predation of arthropods by southern bearded sakis (Chirapotes satanas) in Eastern Brazilian Amazonia. Am J Primatol 68:209–215PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Weatherston J, Percy JE (1978) Venoms of Coleoptera. In: Bettini S (ed) Arthropod venoms (handbook of experimental pharmacology: New series; v. 48). Springer, Berlin, pp 511–554Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology, The City College of New YorkThe City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Division of Invertebrate ZoologyThe American Museum of Natural HistoryNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca AmazónicaPuerto MaldonadoPerú

Personalised recommendations